Infrastructure Bill In Limbo as Biden Meets With Democrats
Liberal and moderate wings of the House Democratic caucus remain at odds over whether that measure should pass without work finished on the sweeping, $3.5 trillion economic package.
The fate of the $1 trillion infrastructure bill remains unclear as Biden prepares to meet with Democrats.
Representative Pramila Jayapal of Washington told Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday that most progressive Democrats would oppose a bipartisan bill until a larger package is passed.Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times
The fate of a bipartisan $1 trillion infrastructure package remained in limbo on Tuesday, as the liberal and moderate wings of the House Democratic caucus continued to argue over whether that measure should pass while a sweeping, $3.5 trillion economic package was unfinished.
Moderate Democrats were adamant that the Senate-passed infrastructure package receive a floor vote next week. They previously secured a promise from party leaders that it would be sent to the House floor on Sept. 27, even if the larger bill, which some of them oppose, was not done.
But Representative Pramila Jayapal of Washington, the chairwoman of the Progressive Caucus, emerged on Tuesday from a lengthy meeting with Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California to say that a majority of liberal lawmakers would oppose the bill until the Senate passed the second, far larger package, which is expected to carry the climate, child care and health care provisions they have championed.
“I wanted to make sure she understood exactly where we were,” Ms. Jayapal said, adding that she had requested the meeting. “Over half of our caucus has committed that we are planning to move both bills at the same time, but we can’t move one without the other.”
Asked what she would say to moderates who believed progressives were bluffing, Ms. Jayapal replied, “Try us.”
As the two groups of Democrats jockeyed for leverage, President Biden’s entire agenda hung in the balance. Democratic leaders spent much of Tuesday urging unity among their members and racing to iron out the intraparty differences that have delayed the release of a final version of the $3.5 trillion legislation. Because Democrats plan to use an arcane budget process to pass that bill without the support of any Republicans, they can afford to lose the support of only three Democrats in the House and none in the Senate.
“I think both will pass,” Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the majority leader, said on Tuesday. “I said that in this morning’s caucus, that I thought, based upon my conversation with members, various different perspectives in the caucus, that both bills will have the majority of support of the members of the House of Representatives on the Democratic side of the aisle.”
Amid the standoff, Mr. Biden is expected to meet with Ms. Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, on Wednesday, according to a person familiar with the plans. He is also expected to host a series of meetings with other lawmakers from across the ideological spectrum, a second person confirmed on the condition of anonymity, to hear their perspectives and make the case for his agenda.