Top House Democrats are barreling forward with a plan to bring up both a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill and a massive $3.5 trillion tax and spending plan for a vote next week even as an intraparty war threatens to torpedo both measures.
Moderate and progressive lawmakers are jockeying for control in a narrowly divided Congress, feuding over the size and scope of President Biden's proposed family and climate change plan. Centrists are pushing to pass the Senate-approved infrastructure bill on Monday, while left-wing Democrats insist they'll sink the measure unless the upper chamber first approves a more expansive spending proposal.
Moderates, however, have voiced skepticism about another multitrillion-dollar bill – funded by a slew of new taxes on wealthy Americans and corporations, no less – after the coronavirus pandemic pushed the U.S. deficit to a record high.
As Democrats attempt to navigate the fraught political landscape without further endangering President Biden's $4 trillion economic agenda, Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent a letter to colleagues on Friday informing them the House would take up both pieces of legislation next week amid "intense dialogue" in the party.
"That intensity continues as we move forward to pass two jobs bills next week: the Build Back Better Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework," Pelosi wrote.
The California Democrat included a link to the 2,465-page spending and tax bill before it heads for budget committee consideration on Saturday, but acknowledged that "as negotiations continue, there may be changes."
Party members remain at odds over both the price and the specific policy inclusions of the sweeping spending package.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal, the chairwoman of the 95-member Progressive Caucus, pledged the infrastructure vote would fail in the House on Monday.
"That bill, it cannot pass," Jayapal, D-Wash., said. "It can only come to the floor once everyone’s agreed and once the Senate has voted on" the $3.5 trillion package.
Pelosi demurred on Friday when asked whether she still planned to bring up the infrastructure package on Monday for vote: "We're bringing the bill up, we will have a vote when we have the votes," she said.
Biden stepped in on Wednesday to personally attempt to head off the brewing intraparty war between moderates and progressives. But despite meetings with a broad spectrum of Democrats, the day concluded with no compromise between the two warring factions, who have for months been feuding over a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill and a $3.5 trillion family and climate change bill.
In a readout Wednesday night, the White House called the meetings "productive and candid" but acknowledge there is "more work ahead in the coming days." Biden held additional meetings, beginning Thursday, to "continue to advance the process of passing these critical plans."
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Thursday the White House and congressional Democrats had agreed on a "framework" to pay for the massive economic plan, though he did not provide additional details.
"That means we are proceeding," Pelosi said at the time. "We have made great progress."