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House Democrats Risk Rift by Teeing Up Infrastructure Vote First By Bloomberg


© Bloomberg. On Tuesday, September 21, 2021, there was a warning sign at the U.S. Capitol, Washington, D.C., U.S.A. House Democrats scheduled a Tuesday vote to approve a bill suspending the U.S. debt limit through December 2022, and temporarily funding the government in order to avoid a shutdown at month’s end. Photographer: Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) — House Democratic leaders plan a Monday vote on the Senate-passed infrastructure bill, a move that risks deepening divisions in their caucus and dooming President Joe Biden’s economic agenda. 

It is almost certain that the infrastructure vote will be held before the vote on the larger tax and spending package. This has been a source of discord among Democrats for several weeks. 

Moderate Democrats, who received assurances last month from the Senate that the $550 million package would be voted on by September 27th, will feel more comfortable with this timing. They also supported the $3.5 trillion budget outline, which served as the basis for the larger reconciliation package. 

Progressive (NYSE:) Democrats, however, have maintained they wouldn’t support the infrastructure bill — which they have the power to defeat — if the House votes on it before the larger package of social and other programs is passed by the House and Senate.

“I think that may well be the case that it is not ready next week,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said of the reconciliation measure during a Tuesday conference call with reporters.

Senate Key

Pressed about how that schedule will square with progressives, Hoyer did not directly explain.

“We’re going to pass something that can pass the Senate,” Hoyer said in regard to what the larger bill might eventually contain and cost. 

The White House is putting pressure on Democrats to stay the course on Biden’s economic plans. Tuesday saw the White House dispatch Brian Deese and Louisa Terrell from National Economic Council to Capitol Hill in order to have a meeting with House Democrats.

Senate moderates Joe Manchin (West Virginia) and Kyrsten Synema (Arizona) have stated that they will not support the $3.5 trillion package. Democrats require the full support of all caucus members in the equally divided Senate. Manchin has asked for a “strategic pause” on the negotiations. 

“If the Senate can’t do $3.5, we’ve got to see what they can do,” said Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat. 

Hoyer stated that he believes House Democrats will unite in order to pass both bills. 

“Not a single progressive has told me they would not vote for the infrastructure bill,” Hoyer said.

Media has heard from progressives about their plans. Pramila Jayapal (House Progressive Caucus Chair) reiterated on Tuesday that the scenario where she could vote for infrastructure next Wednesday without reconciliation being passed is not one in which she would consider.

“We’re working on it,” she said when asked whether reconciliation could be finished next week. 

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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