House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that Democratic lawmakers were "proceeding" with President Biden’s social spending bill, a declaration she made despite lingering disagreements on the legislation.
Pelosi’s letter to House Democrats did not include any update on the timing of a potential vote on either the $1.75 trillion "Build Back Better Act" or the separate Senate bipartisan infrastructure bill. Votes on both bills are expected this week if Democratic leaders can establish a consensus between progressives and key moderate holdouts, such as Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
"We are proceeding with transformative legislation to drive historic progress For The People, For The Children and For The Planet!" Pelosi said.
The speaker argued that the spending bill would be "solidly paid for" by proposed tax hikes on the wealthiest Americans and other measures, such as enhanced IRS tax enforcement. Pelosi cited a report from the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation, which calculated that the tax proposals included in the bill alone would raise $1.5 trillion over 10 years.
Pelosi also cited past reports from Moody’s Analytics and a group of 17 Nobel Prize-winning economists, which found that the spending bill would not increase inflation. Republicans have argued that the spending bill will exacerbate the inflation crisis.
Manchin has called for a reduced price tag on any final social spending bill, arguing that the legislation should not add to the federal deficit. Meanwhile, progressives have pushed for expanded social programs on initiatives such as paid leave despite concerns among moderates about their long-term cost.
"It is essential that the legislation is fully paid for and reduces the debt," Pelosi said.
While votes on both bills could occur as soon as Thursday, some lawmakers have suggested the process may extend through the weekend – or even well beyond – amid last-minute negotiations.
A senior Democratic leadership aide described talks on both Biden bills as a "sh--show" as of Thursday afternoon, Fox News' Chad Pergram reported. Sources told Pergram it was increasingly possible House Democrats would not consider either bill for a week and a half.
"What’s the rush?" one senior Democrat said. "The rush should have been before Tuesday. It’s pretty confusing."
Another aide said it would take a "miracle" for the bill to pass within the next two days, as Pelosi and other Democratic leaders have hoped.
Moderate Democratic lawmakers insisted on conducting a review on the final bill before holding a vote. Some have also called for the Congressional Budget Office to "score" the spending bill before it's brought up for consideration.