A new deadline. Frustration over clashes between Democrats in Congress. And optimism that President Joe Biden’s plan, backed by so-called progressive members, will ultimately succeed.
“Everybody is frustrated,” Biden told reporters outside the White House before departing for Wilmington, Delaware for the weekend.
Pelosi and Biden are trying to hammer out an agreement with the Congressional Progressive Caucus, a 96-strong group that’s holding firm on its insistence that it will tank the infrastructure bill if moderates don’t first help pass a budget package that comes in at $3.5 trillion.
Moderates, including two key senators, are upset that the bills have been tied together and many have so far refused to commit to supporting the budget bill.
Republicans are divided on the infrastructure legislation. Nineteen GOP senators helped Democrats pass it in August. Some Republican representatives have signaled they’ll vote for it. But without the progressives, the bill won’t pass. And Republicans unanimously oppose the budget bill. Democrats plan to use a process called reconciliation to ram it through with zero GOP votes, but that requires support from Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.)—support that’s not there right now.
Democrats enjoy a majority in both legislative chambers, but hold only eight more seats than Republicans in the House and have no votes to spare in the 50-50 Senate, where Vice President Kamala Harris can break ties in her role as president of the body.
Democrat leaders have been trying—and failing—to align enough members on reconciliation, attempting to use the infrastructure package as leverage.
Fractures have become more apparent in the party. Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) penned a lengthy statement Friday hitting Pelosi for her second delay on the infrastructure vote after promising she’d bring it before the House before Sept. 27. Pelosi allies circulated posts on social media responding to the statement, including one that noted the progressive bloc is much larger than Gottheimer’s bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus.
Sinema released a rare public statement Saturday expressing disappointment in the continued delay. She helped craft the bipartisan agreement and her desire to see the House approve it has driven “good-faith negotiations” on the reconciliation package even as she and Manchin have balked at the mammoth price tag.