By Victor Reklaitis
Speaker Nancy Pelosi late Thursday called off a planned vote in the U.S. House of Representatives on a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, as Democratic lawmakers remained unable to agree on their spending proposals.
Progressive House Democrats had promised to block the infrastructure /zigman2/quotes/200238288/composite PAVE -0.93% bill, already passed by the Senate, unless the party’s $3.5 trillion package targeting “human infrastructure” moved ahead in tandem.
Meanwhile, moderate Democratic senators continued to oppose the larger measure’s price tag, making it difficult for House progressives to get the assurances from the Senate that they’re demanding.
Not having a vote on Thursday is a setback for Pelosi, President Joe Biden and other Democratic leaders given they control both chambers of Congress and the White House, but negotiations aimed at delivering on the party’s agenda are expected to keep going in the days and weeks ahead.
“Discussions continue with the House, Senate and White House to reach a bicameral framework agreement to Build Back Better through a reconciliation bill,” Pelosi said late Thursday in a letter to her Democratic colleagues.
She had sounded upbeat on Thursday morning on holding a vote on the infrastructure bill.
“We’re on a path to win the vote. I don’t want to even consider any options other than that,” the California Democrat told reporters at her weekly briefing in the morning.
She said she viewed the $3.5 trillion package as a “culmination” of her service in Congress “because it was about the children,” and she stressed that it will get enacted.
“We will have a reconciliation bill. That is for sure,” she said, referring to the bigger bill, which is expected to pass through a process known as budget reconciliation .
But she noted that it’s tough to convince progressives to support the smaller bill, which is sometimes called the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework, or BIF.
“It’s impossible, though, to persuade people to vote for the BIF, without the reassurances that the reconciliation bill will occur,” Pelosi said.
On Wednesday, Pelosi had suggested the House may not vote Thursday as planned on the infrastructure bill. She also signaled on Wednesday that there needs to be agreed-upon legislative text for the $3.5 trillion package in order for there to be support among progressives for the smaller measure.
Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington, who chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus, had sounded downbeat on holding a vote, as she appeared on CNN late Thursday before Pelosi’s decision.
“I do not think that the infrastructure bill is going to come to a vote tonight, because I don’t think that there is a deal yet on the reconciliation bill, and that is what we have been very clear that we need, if we’re going to vote yes on the infrastructure bill,” Jayapal said.
A month ago, Pelosi had set this past Monday as the target date for a vote on the infrastructure package, but then in recent days she pushed back her deadline to this Thursday. She had pledged a vote by this past Monday to a group of moderate House Democrats to get their support for a procedural vote for the bigger package.
The bipartisan infrastructure bill, known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, passed the Senate in a 69-30 vote on Aug. 10, but it still needs to move through the House and get signed into law by Biden.
In addition to wrestling with their big plans for public works and social programs, Democratic-run Washington on Thursday dealt with a deadline to fund the government in order to avoid a partial shutdown, as well as debt-limit drama.