Congressional Democrats Thursday night called off an effort to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill through the House after negotiations on their reconciliation bill stalled, leaving the two major pieces of President Biden's economic agenda in limbo.
The failure to pass the infrastructure bill so far this week – and the failure to come to an agreement on what the reconciliation bill should look like – were major blows to congressional Democrats and the president. And they underscore both Democrats' razor-thin majorities in Congress and their internal divisions.
But the two bills were not necessarily dead yet, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., continued to express optimism as she left the Capitol early Friday morning.
"We're not trillions apart," she said at 12:01 a.m. "There'll be a vote today."
House progressives have for months said that they would not vote for the infrastructure bill unless the reconciliation bill is passed first through both chambers of Congress. But meanwhile, House moderates extracted a promise from Pelosi to bring up the infrastructure bill before the end of September in exchange for their votes for the budget resolution in August.
Against a deadline
Slow negotiations, however, on the framework of the reconciliation package between moderates like Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., and party leaders butted up against the deadline for the infrastructure vote.
This created a situation in which progressives demanded immediate action on reconciliation in order for them to vote on infrastructure, and moderates simply demanded immediate action on infrastructure.
Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and White House liaisons Susan Rice and Brian Deese tried until late Thursday night to reach a deal before House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., announced there would be no further votes for the evening.
Shortly after that, Problem Solvers Caucus Chairman Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., walked briskly into Pelosi's office, holding a phone to his head and appearing displeased. Gottheimer was one of the infrastructure bill's biggest supporters in the House.
He left the speaker's office a little over a half-hour later. Gottheimer declined to speak to reporters on both occasions.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki had said in a Thursday statement that an agreement was close.
"A great deal of progress has been made this week, and we are closer to an agreement than ever. But we are not there yet, and so, we will need some additional time to finish the work, starting [Friday] morning first thing," Psaki said.
"While Democrats do have some differences, we share common goals of creating good union jobs, building a clean energy future, cutting taxes for working families and small businesses, helping to give those families breathing room on basic expenses — and doing it without adding to the deficit, by making those at the top pay their fair share," she added.
‘A little bit more time’
Manchin had similar comments as he left meetings with Deese, Rice, Sinema and Schumer.
"We just we need a little bit more time. We're getting that time in order to do it we're gonna come to an agreement. I'm trying to make sure they understand that I'm at $1.5 trillion," Manchin said.
Fox News reported Thursday that Democrats were discussing a bill with a topline price of between $2 trillion and $2.5 trillion. But nothing was final and it was not clear progressives would accept a bill that small.
"When someone describes a topline number that is significantly different from what we've been negotiating, I always ask, what they would want to cut?" Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., said Friday. "And so far I haven't heard any answers."
FOX Business' Jason Donner and Jacqui Heinrich contributed to this report.