House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is trying to steamroll moderate Democrats who want to separate an infrastructure bill supported by the Senate from a progressive catch-all bill that some Democrats have found hard to swallow.
Pelosi sent House members a letter on Tuesday saying that her strategy of lumping progressive priorities together has the support of President Joe Biden.
“Today, President Biden endorsed the House Rule which will allow us to consider the budget resolution, H.R. 4 and the bipartisan infrastructure bill next week,” Pelosi wrote, according to Fox News.
“Any delay in passing the budget resolution could threaten our ability to pass this essential legislation through reconciliation. This jeopardizes the once-in-a-generation opportunity we face to enact initiatives that meet the needs of working families at this crucial time,” the letter said.
Reconciliation is a procedural gimmick that allows Democrats to use Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote to approve legislation that cannot get a majority in the 50-50 Senate.
White House spokesman Andrew Bates said Biden supports Pelosi’s proposed “rule” to link the infrastructure and progressive spending bills, as well as a voting bill.
“All three are critical elements of the president’s agenda, and we hope that every Democratic member supports this effort to advance these important legislative actions,” Bates said.
But a defiant group of nine moderate Democrats remains opposed to the tactic.
Democratic Rep. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey said there is no reason to stall, The Wall Street Journal reported.
“I’m hearing from local leaders — from the building tradespeople who build these tunnels, bridges and roads. They’ve got one message to me: Get it done now,” he said.
He told CNN that his constituents want fast action on the infrastructure bill without it being linked to the massive spending bill that could be weeks in debate.
“From what I’m hearing from folks in my district, including labor, it’s clear that we cannot afford to wait months for this once-in-a-generation infrastructure investment,” Gottheimer said.
“I’m confident we can sit down together and work this out,” he added.
But Democrats in leadership want moderates to do as they are told.
“I would hope that none of us would do or say anything that would jeopardize passing these bills,” Majority Whip James Clyburn said. “These bills are critical for us maintaining our majority, and that must reign supreme.”
Pelosi has said she wants it her way.
“This is no time for amateur hour,” she said Monday.
“While the bipartisan infrastructure bill offers important progress, it is not reflective of the totality of Democrats’ vision,” her letter said.
“We must also deliver the Build Back Better bill that includes our priorities that meet needs of American families.”
But other Democrats say the two bills are a false pairing.
“You don’t have a combined birthday party and Christmas party, because they’re two different things,” Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger of Virginia said, according to Axios.
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