Progressives spurn Pelosi on infrastructure vote without reconciliation deal

Progressives threaten to sink infrastructure bill without larger spending package

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is urging Democrats to pass a stalled $1 trillion infrastructure package as soon as today, but is being rebuffed by progressive lawmakers who are threatening to vote against the bipartisan measure unless it's accompanied by a larger, party-line spending bill. 

It marks the latest battle in an ongoing intraparty war between moderates who want to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which includes $550 billion in new funding for traditional projects like roads, bridges and transits, as soon as possible, and progressives who insist they'll sink the measure unless the upper chamber first approves a more expansive spending proposal.  

The Senate approved the infrastructure bill in August, but House progressives have refused to advance the measure until the reconciliation package is approved. President Biden on Thursday unveiled a revised framework for a roughly $1.75 trillion family and climate spending plan, urging Democrats to set aside their ideological differences and vote for the measure, along with a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure plan. 


"After months of tough and thoughtful negotiations, I think we have – I know we have – a historic economic framework," the president said from the East Room of the White House. "This framework includes historic investments in our nation, and in our people."

President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris leave after Biden spoke about his administration's social spending plans,from the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 28, 2021. (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images) (NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images / Getty Images)

But it's unclear whether all Democrats on Capitol Hill agreed to back the latest proposal, and there appeared to be no immediate détente between House progressives and Senate moderates late Thursday morning.

Left-wing lawmakers – still fuming over the last-minute removal of key progressive priorities like paid family leave and expanded Medicaid – rebuffed Democratic leaders on a potential Thursday vote on the infrastructure bill, demanding assurances that the larger bill would not fall to the wayside. Several progressive have insisted they'll sink the measure unless the upper chamber first approves a more expansive spending proposal. 

Key centrist lawmakers have also refused to explicitly endorse the reconciliation plan that Biden rolled out after weeks of tenuous back-and-forth negotiations.

Asked Thursday whether she would vote for the infrastructure bill without concrete legislative text for the Build Back Better Act, Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., said "no." 

U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN) introduces Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) at a campaign event in Nashua, New Hampshire, U.S., December 13, 2019. REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz - RC2PUD9RWMHC (REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz / Reuters Photos)

"We need to keep the promise that was made," Omar said, referring to a promise from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to follow a two-track system and pass the larger reconciliation bill first. "We need to see the two bills signed together."

That sentiment was echoed by other members of the House Progressive Caucus, including Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., who said she would not vote on the infrastructure bill without the bigger social spending package, as well as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.

"We need both bills to ride together and we don’t have that right now. I feel a little bamboozled because this was not what I thought was coming today," Bush told reporters. She also swiped at moderate Sens. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who have demanded that Democrats pare down the spending bill before they would support it. 


"Our trust has to be in two senators that have not – in my opinion – been good-faith actors up to this point," she said.

U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) speaks during a news conference discussing the introduction of rent legislation outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., September 21, 2021. REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz (Reuters Photos)

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, the chairwoman of the House Progressive Caucus, indicated that she supported the Build Back Better framework and reiterated that she would not vote for the infrastructure bill until the latter was also passed.

"This is a significant set of investments that will be transformational for people," she said. "We intend to vote for both bills when the text is ready." 

Pelosi can afford to lose just three votes in the closely divided House and has previously called off a promised vote on infrastructure after pushback from progressives.

Fox News' Chad Pergram contributed to this report