Immediately after negotiations on the bipartisan infrastructure bill were completed, Joe Biden informed the Republicans, who had just given him a huge win, that before that bill was voted on in Congress, Democrats would first have to pass a $3.5 trillion partisan budget reconciliation bill.
Democrats sort of forgot to mention that little detail to Republicans and the deal almost collapsed 24 hours after it was signed. But Biden assured the jittery Republicans that there would be a vote on the bipartisan bill. Then they could take up the reconciliation measure.
As it turns out, Biden wasn’t being completely honest with the Republicans or some of the more moderate Democratic House members who have their own jitters about the $3.5 trillion spending bill. Shocking, right? And now, nine “moderate” Democrats in the House have informed Speaker Nancy Pelosi that they won’t even allow the reconciliation bill to come to the floor unless a vote is first held on the bipartisan infrastructure deal.
They can do that because all it takes is three Democrats to vote with all the Republicans to scuttle Pelosi’s grand plan and prevent any floor action on the reconciliation bill. Apparently, the president is going to call their bluff and make them vote to blow up both bills.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her leadership team are mounting a pressure campaign on centrist Democrats to get them to support their party’s budget resolution without a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill – and they now have the White House’s support for a procedural move to advance them together next week.
“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, D-Calif., said in a Tuesday letter. “[A]ny 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.”
It could be that Pelosi and Biden know something they aren’t sharing with the rest of us. Or it could be a simple game of chicken — who will blink first?
Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., and Transportation Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., also leaned on members to support next week’s budget resolution vote. This campaign comes as a group of moderate Democrats led by Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., threatens to torpedo it until the House passes the infrastructure bill.
Gottheimer in multiple public appearances hasn’t backed down from his group’s demands – although he told Politico and Punchbowl he’s willing to negotiate with Pelosi. And his group gained some leverage this week when Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., told Fox News that he believes there are enough Republicans who support the infrastructure bill to offset Democrats who might vote against it without a reconciliation bill.
The $3.5 trillion infrastructure bill was already in trouble in the Senate because Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema have adamantly opposed using reconciliation for such a gigantic expenditure. Their opposition means that any budget bill would not come to the Senate floor.
Now it appears that the nine Democratic congressmen will hold the bill hostage in the House until the bipartisan bill is passed. Those Democrats — and many Republicans — don’t trust Pelosi, who could easily yank the bipartisan bill from consideration, pass the $3.5 trillion budget bill, and then, thanks to radical opposition to the bipartisan bill, watch as it goes down to defeat.
Progressives would get everything they want, moderates are left out to dry, and Republicans are told to go hang.