Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., urged House Democrats to reject a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package later this week unless the Senate first passes the $3.5 trillion spending bill favored by progressive lawmakers.
"Let’s be crystal clear. If the bipartisan infrastructure bill is passed on its own on Thursday, this will be in violation of an agreement that was reached within the Democratic Caucus in Congress," Sanders said. "More importantly, it will end all leverage that we have to pass a major reconciliation bill. That means there will be no serious effort to address the long-neglected crises facing the working families of our country, the children, the elderly, the sick and the poor."
"It also means that Congress will continue to ignore the existential threat to our country and planet with regard to climate change," Sanders added. "I strongly urge my House colleagues to vote against the bipartisan infrastructure bill until Congress passes a strong reconciliation bill."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told Democratic lawmakers in a caucus meeting late Monday that she intended to bring the bipartisan bill up for a vote later this week, despite ongoing negotiations on the broader $3.5 trillion spending bill, which contains social support programs, green energy investments and other progressive priorities.
Pelosi’s decision marked a reversal of her previous pledge to pass the bills together. Democratic leaders are attempting to find common ground with moderate Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and others who have said they will not vote for the $3.5 trillion bill due to its price tag.
Sanders and other progressives are adamant they will not vote for the bipartisan bill without an agreement in place for the larger spending plan.
"We made a deal. Now that it's been announced that the infrastructure bill will come to a vote on Thursday, let me be absolutely clear," Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mich., tweeted earlier this week. "I will not support it without first passing the Build Back Better Act."
Congressional Progressive Caucus chairwoman Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., took the same stance.
"We articulated this position more than three months ago, and today it is still unchanged: Progressives will vote for both bills, but a majority of our members will only vote for the infrastructure bill after the president’s visionary Build Back Better Act passes," Jayapal said.