House Problem Solvers Caucus Chairman Josh Gottheimer says in a Tuesday op-ed for NJ.com that the House of Representatives should pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill quickly to get "shovels in the ground" during negotiations on Democrats' reconciliation bill.
The missive from Gottheimer, D-N.J., comes despite the fact that top congressional Democrats, progressives and even President Biden's White House are all moving forward with a strategy of holding onto the infrastructure bill until negotiations on Democrats' reconciliation bill are complete.
"You can see why many of us want to vote on it as soon as possible, send the infrastructure bill to the president’s desk, and immediately get shovels in the ground and people to work," Gottheimer said on NJ.com. "But here’s the rub. Recently, despite broad popularity, some of my colleagues blocked a vote on the infrastructure package. They wanted us to wait on it until we vote on the reconciliation bill."
He added on NJ.com: "But the details of that legislation are still up in the air and require considerable debate and negotiation in the House and with the Senate. Meanwhile, infrastructure was passed in August and is still sitting in the House awaiting a vote."
Gottheimer said he supports passing a reconciliation bill, even if he disagrees with some Democrats on what it should look like. And in the op-ed he characterized these differences over what the reconciliation bill should look like as "small." That is perhaps a stretch given the fact progressives want a bill that is trillions of dollars more expensive than what Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., is demanding with his $1.5 trillion topline.
But he nevertheless argued that Democrats should take their time negotiating on reconciliation while pushing through the infrastructure bill now.
"Yes, it’s true — not everyone agrees on the size and scope of the bill; that’s still being debated," Gottheimer said on NJ.com. "[W]e are still debating the full scope of the plan and how to pay for child care, climate, and other provisions. But, in the meantime, I just didn’t think Congress should hold up the president’s historic bipartisan infrastructure investments and millions of jobs."
It's unclear how much Gottheimer's missive could move the needle on negotiations over infrastructure and reconciliation. The congressman suffered an embarrassing defeat late last month when despite his many declarations that the House would vote on and pass the infrastructure bill, progressives held strong against it and blocked any House vote.
Top Democrats are targeting the end of October to pass infrastructure and reconciliation, but it's likely that timeline could slip into November and perhaps even later especially given the serious differences between moderates and progressives on reconciliation.