Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday morning said she still was planning to have the U.S. House of Representatives vote later in the day on a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, even as her progressive Democratic colleagues appeared set to block this key part of President Joe Biden’s agenda. There were some expectations she would call off a vote, but a House notice late Thursday instead just said no votes were expected to occur prior to 9 p.m. Eastern.
A delayed vote would be a setback for Biden, Pelosi and other top Democrats, but negotiations likely would continue in the weeks ahead. “We’re on a path to win the vote. I don’t want to even consider any options other than that,” the California Democrat told reporters at her weekly briefing in the morning. Progressive House Democrats look on track to vote down the infrastructure
bill, already passed by the Senate, unless the party’s $3.5 trillion package targeting “human infrastructure” moves ahead in tandem. Meanwhile, moderate Democratic senators have continued to oppose the larger measure’s price tag, making it difficult for House progressives to get the assurances from the Senate that they’re demanding. Related: Manchin, drawing flak for holding up Biden’s agenda, says Democrats should ‘elect more liberals’ if they want bigger spending “At the end, that’s when you really have to weigh in. You cannot tire, you cannot concede. This is the fun part,” Pelosi said during her briefing. She said she viewed the $3.5 trillion package as a “culmination” of her service in Congress “because it was about the children,” and she stressed that it will get enacted. “We will have a reconciliation bill. That is for sure,” she said, referring to the bigger bill, which is expected to pass through a process known as budget reconciliation. But she noted that it’s tough to convince progressives to support the smaller bill, which is sometimes called the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework, or BIF. “It’s impossible, though, to persuade people to vote for the BIF, without the reassurances that the reconciliation bill will occur,” Pelosi said. On Wednesday, Pelosi had suggested the House may not vote Thursday as planned on the infrastructure bill. She also signaled on Wednesday that there needs to be agreed-upon legislative text for the $3.5 trillion package in order for there to be support among progressives for the smaller measure. Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington, who chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus, sounded downbeat on holding a vote, as she appeared on CNN late Thursday. “I do not think that the infrastructure bill is going to come to a vote tonight, because I don’t think that there is a deal yet on the reconciliation bill, and that is what we have been very clear that we need, if we’re going to vote yes on the infrastructure bill,” Jayapal said. A month ago, Pelosi had set this past Monday as the target date for a vote on the infrastructure package, but then in recent days she pushed back her deadline to this Thursday. She had pledged a vote by this past Monday to a group of moderate House Democrats to get their support for a procedural vote for the bigger package. The bipartisan infrastructure bill, known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, passed the Senate in a 69-30 vote on Aug. 10, but it still needs to move through the House and get signed into law by Biden. See: Here’s what’s in the bipartisan infrastructure bill that the House aims to pass — and how it’s paid for White House press secretary Jen Psaki wasn’t throwing in the towel on having a vote on the infrastructure bill during a briefing on Thursday afternoon. “We’re working towards winning a vote tonight. We have several hours left in the day,” Psaki told reporters. In addition to wrestling with their big plans for public works and social programs, Democratic-run Washington on Thursday dealt with a deadline to fund the government in order to avoid a partial shutdown, as well as debt-limit drama. Read more: Biden signs bill into law to prevent government shutdown as debt-limit fight continues U.S. stocks
closed lower Thursday, leaving the S&P 500 down nearly 5% for the month of September.