News and Analysis

Biden Headed To Congress To Try To Salvage $1.2T Infrastructure Bill, Pelosi Whipping Votes
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 12: U.S. Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) (R) speaks as President Joe Biden (L) listens during an event on the American Rescue Plan in the Rose Garden of the White House on March 12, 2021 in Washington, DC. President Biden signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act into law that will send aid to millions of Americans struggling from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Joe Biden will pay a visit to Congress Friday afternoon in a last-ditch effort to whip votes behind a $1.2T bipartisan infrastructure bill, now that progressives seemed determined to resist voting “yes” to pass the bill unless Senate Democrats are fully behind a separate $3.5 trillion “human infrastructure” spending package.

Biden and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) have reportedly been desperately counting votes on the infrastructure bill since yesterday when Pelosi was forced to call off a planned vote on the measure, scheduled to take place around 6:30 p.m. White House negotiators were still hard at work in Pelosi’s office Thursday evening, according to sources on the ground that spoke to The Daily Wire.

A deal, though, has yet to be reached, and progressives, who noted their objections to the bipartisan infrastructure bill on Thursday, appear no closer to giving their final approval on Friday unless a separate deal can be reached in the Senate.

A Senate deal seems increasingly unlikely, as well. In order to pass the $3.5 trillion spending package through reconciliation — a little-used process that allows the Senate to pass a budget-focused bill by a simple majority, rather than by a super-majority — they need all Democrats on board. Two moderates, Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) say they will not vote for such a costly bill and are negotiating on a smaller, $2T bill.

Sinema, though, returned to Arizona on Friday, likely marking an end to any serious negotiations, though she told media that she is still in contact with the White House on the matter.

With progressives demanding Sinema and Manchin agree to pass the $3.5 trillion package before they’ll sign on to the $1.2 trillion one, Pelosi appears to have called in the president himself to help handle her caucus breakdown.

“Pelosi is privately trying to gauge how many votes she has for a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill, weighing whether to bring it to the floor,” Fox News’ Jacqui Heinrich said Friday. “Pelosi does not like to bring up votes that will fail, and progressives are still vowing to vote against the bipartisan bill unless they get not just an AGREEMENT on the social spending reconciliation package, but a VOTE on that as well. That’s not possible without final text.”

“The White House has been trying to get Manchin and Sinema to agree to a $2.1T reconciliation deal, but the framework is not enough for progressives to vote for the bipartisan bill. Biden now traveling to the Hill is a significant part of this effort to get it done,” Heinrich noted.

But it is not clear whether progressives will accept a $2.1 trillion “framework” if they were unwilling to accept a framework with a slightly lower price tag, offered by Manchin just yesterday — and reportedly in Sen. Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) hands since mid-July, even though the House and Senate appear to have begun negotiations on the reconciliation bill just this week.

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