Politics

House delays vote to advance Biden’s economic agenda as centrist Democrats derail Pelosi’s plans

Key Points
  • The House delayed a planned vote to advance two key proposals that make up President Joe Biden's economic agenda.
  • The chamber will reconvene Tuesday as lawmakers try to strike a deal to move forward with the measures.
  • Centrists have pushed Speaker Nancy Pelosi to vote on the Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure bill before the House approves a $3.5 trillion budget resolution.
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Nancy Pelosi's in a tough spot on infrastructure

The House scrapped a planned vote to advance two key economic proposals as centrist Democrats and party leaders failed to break a stalemate over how to proceed with President Joe Biden's sprawling economic agenda.

The chamber will reconvene at noon ET on Tuesday as Democrats try to strike a deal to move forward with legislation they see as an economic boon and a lifeline for households. House Democrats hope to take a procedural vote as soon as early Tuesday afternoon.

Biden's domestic policy goals, and his party's push to retain control of Congress in next year's midterms, could hinge on whether Democrats find a compromise.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has pushed to pass a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill and her party's separate $3.5 trillion spending plan at the same time. The process could take weeks or months, as the House needs to join the Senate in passing a budget resolution before lawmakers write a final proposal.

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is trailed by reporters as she departs a meeting with fellow House Democrats as they teed up a vote on President Joe Biden's sweeping plan to expand spending on social programs, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S. August 23, 2021.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

Nine members of Pelosi's caucus — enough to cost her a majority vote if they defect — urged the California Democrat to approve the Senate-passed infrastructure legislation this week and send it to Biden's desk. Pelosi wants to pair the bills to ensure the centrists wary of a $3.5 trillion price tag and progressives who consider the infrastructure plan inadequate back both measures.

The nine lawmakers opposed Pelosi's plan to vote Monday on a measure that would advance the infrastructure bill, the budget plan and separate voting rights legislation. She aimed to approve the budget resolution as soon as Tuesday, then hold a final vote on the infrastructure bill only after Democrats wrote their final spending plan and the Senate approved it.

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Two Congressmen debate the path forward for an infrastructure deal

As they lacked the votes to move ahead, Pelosi and her top deputies engaged for hours Monday night with the holdouts, including Democratic Rep. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey. Democratic leaders reportedly offered a commitment to vote on the infrastructure bill by Oct. 1.

Asked as she left the Capitol early Tuesday if lawmakers would set a date for an infrastructure vote, Pelosi responded, "We will see tomorrow, won't we now?"

In a Washington Post column published Sunday, the nine Democrats said they "are firmly opposed to holding the president's infrastructure legislation hostage to reconciliation, risking its passage and the bipartisan support behind it."

Democratic leaders will use budget reconciliation to try to pass their plan that aims to expand the social safety net and curb climate change. The process would allow the party to approve it without a vote from Republicans.

The GOP has opposed the trillions in spending and the tax hikes on corporations and the wealthy contained in the plan.

Though they do not need Republican support, Democrats have a tiny margin for error. They will need to win over all 50 members of their Senate caucus and all but three Democrats in the House.

Centrists in the Senate have taken issue with the proposed $3.5 trillion price tag.

The budget plan would expand Medicare coverage, extend strengthened household tax credits passed last year, create incentives to adopt green energy, broaden paid family and medical leave, and boost access to child care, among other measures. Biden sees it as complementary to the infrastructure plan.

The bipartisan bill would put $550 billion in new money into transportation, broadband and utilities.

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