On Tuesday, progressive members of Congress warned Democratic leaders that they will sink Biden’s proposed infrastructure bill if the Senate won’t commit to passing the larger, $3.5 trillion “Build Back Better” bill that includes a massive host of new and expanded government programs.
The tension between the far-left and Democrat leaders has been building up for some time, setting up this clash.
Nancy Pelosi might have reason to be worried.
As Pelosi’s vote on the infrastructure bill scheduled for Thursday approaches, she is feeling pressure from the left in her party as moderate House Democrats seek to separate the bipartisan infrastructure bill from the much bigger yet more controversial “family” benefits package.
Progressives are demanding that moderate Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema commit to supporting the larger package before they vote in favor of the more popular bipartisan infrastructure measure.
The hard left Democratic members claim they have the numbers to blow up the bill.
“If she were to call the bill, it will fail,” said Pelosi ally and Democratic Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky.
“Not because the [Congressional] Progressive Caucus, people like me, aren’t willing to vote for it,” she said. “But … we had an agreement that we were going to get these two pieces.”
Pelosi said Tuesday that members in both camps have been “making good progress.”
“Everybody has to do what they have to do, and I respect that,” Pelosi said. “We’re doing our work.”
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Moderate Democrat leader, Congressman Josh Gottheimer, says the vote is happening.
“We’re voting Thursday,” he said.
“I believe at the end of the day people will vote yes when it comes down to 2 million … jobs and these critical investments in infrastructure,” Gottheimer told reporters.
He added, “I just don’t believe people are going to hit the ‘no’ button, and I know the Speaker wouldn’t have called this and brought us all together if she couldn’t get the votes and she’s the best at it. So, she’ll get the votes.”
Schakowsky said of Pelosi’s dilemma, “I’ve never seen her bring a bill to the floor that’s going to fail. It will fail if she does.”
The Congressional Progressive Caucus’s Pramila Jayapal said dozens of her fellow Democrats will vote down infrastructure in order to get the broader package.
“This agenda is not some fringe wish list: it is the President’s agenda,” Jayapal said in a statement.
Far-left Democratic congresswoman and ‘Squad’ member Rashida Tlaib said any plans by Pelosi to split the bills would be a “betrayal.”
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In a sign of how the Democrat Party is much further left than in generations past, its noteworthy that several, multi-trillion dollar spending packages aren’t “enough” for many in the party.
The last remaining moderate Democrats, Sinema and Manchin, have drawn fire from members of their party for raising doubts about such massive, sweeping bills.
Progressive Democrat Jim McGovern said, “Look, I want to be a good guy. My father told me when I was growing up there’s a fine line between being a good guy and a goddamn fool. I don’t want to be rolled.”
“And I think a lot of us want to make sure that we have an assurance that, in fact, there’s going to be a reconciliation bill,” he added.
Regardless, Nancy Pelosi has her work cut out for her.
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