Wednesday, October 20

Nancy Pelosi bails on a vote for Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure bill as House progressives launch full revolt

  • Pelosi pulled a planned vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill on Thursday.
  • The vote was taken off the schedule on Thursday evening and is expected to be voted on tomorrow, now.
  • Progressives launched a full revolt as moderates held up the social spending plan.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pulled a vote on President Joe Biden’s $550 billion infrastructure originally planned for Thursday. It’s a major setback for Democrats as moderate and progressive feuds deepened over Biden’s domestic agenda.

Members are advised “the House is expected to complete consideration of the Senate Amendment to HR 3684 — Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, tomorrow,” a floor notice read.

The vote was yanked after it became obvious that House Democrats did not have enough support to clear the bill and send it to Biden’s desk. Pelosi had a three-vote margin of error in the 220-212 House.

The blow to Biden’s agenda comes as progressives launched a full revolt since the California Democrat decoupled the bipartisan infrastructure bill from approving the larger $3.5 trillion social spending plan earlier this week. The latter measure is aimed at ensuring tuition-free community college, affordable childcare, Medicare and Medicaid expansion, and a renewal of the child allowance among other measures.

Pelosi initially linked both measures and insisted they needed to move in tandem through the summer. But on Monday, she told House Democrats that lack of progress on the social spending package meant they had to approve the bipartisan infrastructure vote in a bid to keep a pledge to House moderates for late September passage.

Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont encouraged the brewing resistance. “If there is a vote, I hope it loses,” Sanders told Insider on Thursday.

Progressive anger mounted after moderate Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia issued a statement Thursday assailing the $3.5 trillion social spending plan as “the definition of fiscal insanity.” House Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal told reporters soon after, as a result, progressives were digging in and around half of her 96-member caucus were prepared to derail the bill.

Still, House moderates insisted the scheduled vote had to proceed. “If we let a big piece of the Biden agenda fall down, we can’t blame the Republicans,” Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas told Insider. “We control everything so it’s important that we have that vote.”

On Thursday, Manchin said he was seeking a $1.5 trillion social spending plan, less than half the amount that Democrats approved in a budget plan in August. He said any sum higher than that could cause the US to slip into an “entitlement-based society .”

Many Democrats are fed up with Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. The pair of centrists are pivotal votes in the 50-50 Senate, where Democrats cannot afford a single defection because they’re employing a process called reconciliation. It requires only a simple majority vote for Democrats to skirt united GOP opposition, but all 50 Democratic senators must stick together for the gambit to succeed.

Manchin and Sinema have both attended back-to-back meetings at the White House this week with Biden and his senior aides to discuss the size and scope of the plan. But there’s little sign of a breakthrough in the talks.

“They’ve had their chance, they’ve made their case,” Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the number two Senate Democrat, told reporters on Thursday. “They should close this deal. Too much is at stake.”

This story will be updated.

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