Infrastructure Plan: Pelosi Says She 'Never' Brings a Bill to Floor 'That Doesn't Have the Votes'
18:00 GMT 26.09.2021 (Updated: 20:34 GMT 19.10.2022)
With the $3.5 trillion Democratic spending plan being dubbed one of America's "biggest spending sprees", it has caused division and criticism not only between the two opposing parties but also among the Democrats themselves.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, when discussing the $1 trillion infrastructure bill on ABC's "This Week", said that she would never bring a bill to the floor if it does not have enough votes to be passed.
When the host, George Stephanopoulos, asked Pelosi about the timing for the passage of the bill, the speaker ambiguously said that "we're going to pass the bill this week", even though its language included a commitment to vote on it on Monday.
"I'm never bringing a bill to the floor that doesn't have the votes", Pelosi said. "You cannot choose the date. You have to go when you have the votes".
She did not rule out that the vote might take place on Monday but underlined again that it would happen only if she has enough votes.
Representative Pramila Jayapal, who is a chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said earlier that Monday was just an arbitrary deadline and there was "no reason to bring it up", since "it's just an attempt to pass one bill and leave behind the bill that has the majority of the president's agenda".
Over the weekend, Jayapal took to Twitter to announce that she had joined her fellow House Democrats on the Budget Committee to pass the "Build Back Better" agenda.
Why Are the Democrats Divided Over the Bill?
The massive $3.5 trillion spending bill - earlier in the weekend passed by the House Budget Committee and sent to the House floor - has caused debates among the Democratic Party, along with the separate $1 trillion infrastructure bill.
As the progressives insist on large expenditures for the "Build Back Better" agenda, moderates express concerns that some of the measures, particularly those related to climate action, go too far.
"The most emergent need that we have right now is to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which will invest in roads, bridges, water, sewer, & broadband after years of neglect. Any further spending should not be rushed & should be considered on a bipartisan basis", Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) noted earlier in September.
Progressives, however, argue that they have already reduced their reconciliation demands, with some observers adding
that it would be "disastrous" for the United States to go to the global climate conference without having passed the climate-related measures.
24 August 2021, 20:17 GMT
Biden has repeatedly insisted that both of his legislation items - the $3.5 trillion spending bill and the $1 trillion infrastructure bill - need to be passed for the sake of fulfilling his "Build Back Better" agenda.
"My Build Back Better Agenda costs zero dollars. Instead of wasting money on tax breaks, loopholes, and tax evasion for big corporations and the wealthy, we can make a once-in-a-generation investment in working America", Biden said, touting his agenda.
Yet, the president has recently acknowledged that the negotiations over the bill have reached a "stalemate", with squabbles between moderates and progressives threatening to undermine his agenda, especially in light of Republican lawmakers being united in their opposition to the president's spending plans.
What Are the Prospects?
Democratic Representative John Yarmuth, the House Budget Committee chair, told The Washington Post that in the event of the progressives appearing close enough to ensure the initial failure of the infrastructure bill, Democratic leaders could manage to push it through until the Senate is close to finishing the reconciliation bill.
He even suggested a possible scenario of Nancy Pelosi's actions.
"I think probably what would happen is we wouldn't vote on it — leadership would pull it", Yarmuth told The Washington Post. "Nancy would go to the moderates and say, 'We don't have the votes. You want it to go down, or you want to live to fight another day?'"
According to him, that would be "a step toward the eventual goal of getting Biden's whole agenda right", as both sides would "get their way".
Still, the costly Biden agenda will have to somehow make its way to the Senate, with Republican lawmakers adamant in their description of the bills as "irresponsible spending".
"Democrats' reckless tax and spending spree hurts American families and helps China. The American people don't want it. And Senate Republicans won't support it", said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.