Pelosi braces for budget showdown with Democratic centrists

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“If there is a way to solve this problem, then of course we are working in that direction. I told that to the leaders, ”Gottheimer said in an interview, adding that his group refused to“ wait until December ”for Biden’s infrastructure bill to pass.

Pelosi and his management team face their first test on Monday, as the House returns this week to vote on the rule governing the floor debate. The House Rules Committee will meet at 11 a.m. to put this procedural movement in place. However, some senior Democrats are warning that plans to vote on the rule are changing as the leadership continues its whip operation. Democrats were scheduled to meet for a rare caucus meeting Monday night before the votes.

The expansive rule will set the limits of debate for three bills – the infrastructure package, the fiscal framework needed to unlock reconciliation and a voting rights bill named after the late Representative John Lewis (D- Ga.). But Pelosi only intends to put the voting rights legislation and the budget resolution to a final vote this week, angering moderates.

Pelosi posted a letter this weekend meant to appease the centrist group in some way. The speaker set a timeline for the passage of the infrastructure bill and reconciliation package by October 1, when current surface transportation programs expire. She also promised that even if the fiscal framework would be written on the agreed-upon revenue of $ 3.5 trillion, the resulting spending bill would also be “paid for” – as lawmakers say privately that the latter promise effectively overrides the old spending target.

“Any delay in passing the budget resolution threatens the timeline for achieving historic progress and the transformative vision Democrats share,” Pelosi wrote, making this week’s round of votes a test of loyalty to the president. .

“To support President Biden’s vision of building back better, we must act quickly to pass the budget resolution this week,” she added.

The social spending package is expected to be a massive construction of Democratic priorities, from extending Medicare to providing paid family leave, to universal pre-K, to immigration reform and to fighting against climate change.

This group of nine moderates was in close communication over the weekend, telling each other they all remained opposed to supporting the party’s budget even as speculation mounted that some might give in. They said privately that Pelosi’s letter did little to allay fears about a delayed vote on infrastructure – or on the left wing of the caucus holding the deal with the Senate hostage to secure their rights. own requests for a larger set of expenses.

These House moderates were also in touch with their Senate counterparts after spending weeks working together on the bipartisan infrastructure deal. One of those centrist senators, Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona), officially ruled out negotiating with Pelosi in a statement released Monday. The Sinema spokeswoman said the bipartisan bill “should be considered on its own merits” and that she will not budge in her opposition to a $ 3.5 trillion spending bill.

Sinema and Sen. Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) both supported the budget resolution establishing an expenditure bill of up to $ 3.5 trillion, but declined to pledge to support that final figure when it becomes a formal law. And Sinema’s specific veto on that number on Monday could put her legislation at risk in the House, where she served for three terms.

“Debates in the US House will have no impact on Kyrsten’s opinion of what is best for our country – including the fact that she will not support a costly budget reconciliation bill. $ 3.5 trillion, “Sinema spokesman John LaBombard said.

Manchin, meanwhile, urged the House to “put politics aside” and vote on infrastructure “quickly”.

“It would send a terrible message to the American people if this bipartisan bill is taken hostage,” Manchin said in a statement Monday.

Some House moderates, such as Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.), Also blew up any bill costing $ 3.5 trillion.

With the divisions of House Democrats on display, outside groups are already dueling on the air. Progressive Democrat-led justice groups on Monday launched a six-figure ad buy targeting the nine centrist Democrats who they say are “sabotaging Biden’s agenda” – a direct counter to another round of announcements from the centrist group No Labels hailing what they called “the unbreakable nine.”

Burgess Everett contributed to this report.


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