Moderate Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema are reportedly throwing support behind nine House lawmakers threatening to derail President Biden’s $3.5 trillion infrastructure deal if Speaker Nancy Pelosi doesn’t first schedule a vote on a smaller bipartisan compromise bill.
The two senators are privately advising and encouraging the group of centrist Democrats, nicknamed the ‘unbreakable nine,’ on negotiations with Pelosi and White House officials.
They’re supporting the group’s attempt to leverage passage of the Democrat-backed reconciliation bill by vowing to tank the measure in the House if a $1.2 trillion infrastructure deal that passed the Senate isn’t sent to Biden’s desk for a signature.
Those conversations are emboldening the lawmakers to stand against the heftier bill, Axios reports.
By joining forced with ideological counterparts in the lower chamber Manchin and Sinema, who both voted in favor of a fiscal blueprint of the $3.5 trillion bill earlier this month, are signaling that their priority is with them more modest measure.
Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona have been privately encouraging and advising the nine House Democrats threatening to tank Biden’s $3.5 trillion infrastructure agenda
Manchin and Sinema’s backing is setting up a civil war between moderates and Nancy Pelosi, who is backed by the White House
An ad campaign by nonpartisan group No Labels is also looking to give the nine lawmakers some clout
The House vote would be for advancing the hefty legislation through to committees, not final passage.
Pelosi dismissed the holdouts’ threats as ‘amateur hour’ earlier this week, Politico reports.
One source told the outlet that Pelosi is standing firm on the sequence of votes and will likely call moderates’ bluff.
‘For the first time, America’s children have leverage. I will not surrender that leverage,’ she said according to one Democrat.
But the stand-off could also end with Pelosi promising the nine lawmakers a vote on the bipartisan deal by the end of next month.
Nine moderate Democrats threatening mutiny with Pelosi
The nine moderate Democrats who wrote to Speaker Pelosi to say they won’t vote for budget deal unless House passes infrastructure first:
Rep. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey
Rep. Vicente Gonzalez of Texas
Rep. Filemon Vela of Texas
Rep. Jared Golden of Maine
Rep. Ed Case of Hawaii
Rep. Kurt Schrader of Oregon
Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas
Rep. Jim Costa of California
Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux of Georgia
A nonpartisan group called No Labels is rolling out an ad campaign to bolster and support the ‘unbreakable nine.’
Pelosi scheduled a vote for the $3.5 trillion bill when the House returns from recess next week.
After threats from progressive representatives to vote down the bipartisan bill, the speaker promised to bring the larger bill to a vote first.
The White House issued a statement publicly supporting Pelosi’s plan of action on Tuesday. If passed the $3.5 trillion measure will allow Biden to reshape the federal government’s spending priorities in time for the 2022 election.
White House officials have also reportedly been contacting lawmakers to ramp up pressure in favor of Pelosi’s timeline.
If both bills fail, it could leave Democrats in vulnerable seats in 2022 wide open.
Democrats can only afford to lose three votes in the House for any legislation to pass. Pelosi’s hands are tied by both factions having the ability to kill the bills.
In a letter addressed to her ‘Democratic Colleagues’ on Tuesday Pelosi called on lawmakers to pass the $3.5 trillion budget ‘immediately’ upon returning from recess on August 23rd.
‘Any delay in passing the budget resolution could threaten our ability to pass this essential legislation through reconciliation. This jeopardizes the once-in-a-generation opportunity we face to enact initiatives that meet the needs of working families at this crucial time,’ Pelosi wrote.
‘While the bipartisan infrastructure bill offers important progress, it is not reflective of the totality of Democrats’ vision.’
But last week nine moderate Democrats lauded the smaller bill as ‘a bipartisan victory for our nation’ that will ‘create millions of good paying jobs.’
Referring to the progressive wing urging Pelosi to hold the $1.2 trillion measure up, they wrote: ‘Some have suggested that we hold off on considering the Senate infrastructure bill for months until the reconciliation process is completed. We disagree.’
With the livelihoods of hardworking American families at stake, we simply can’t afford months of unnecessary delays.’
Passage of the two infrastructure bills – which total nearly $5 trillion – would be a big win for Biden ahead of the 2022 midterm elections
Pelosi dismissed centrist Democrats’ holdout tactics as ‘amateur hour’
They vowed to ‘not consider’ Biden’s reconciliation package until the bipartisan bill is signed into law.
That’s led to some infighting among House Democrats, with the larger progressive wing launching public attacks against the moderates to pressure them to change course.
More progressive Democrats have held Manchin and Sinema responsible for stalling and curbing the passage of Biden’s massive infrastructure agenda.
With a razor-thin majority in the Senate, the two lawmakers scored invites to the White House where Biden and senior officials attempted to woo them into supporting the president’s agenda.
Sinema publicly opposed the $3.5 trillion measure for weeks ahead of the vote.
Manchin was murkier about his position on it, but indicated at times he was unhappy with the amount of money Biden was looking to spend.
Both wound up voting to advance the budget framework, which will need support from all 50 Democrats to pass through budget reconciliation.
Republican support for the Democratic wish list is virtually nonexistent.
Democrats’ budget framework allocates billions of dollars to Senate committees to begin drafting proposals for final bill
Agriculture: $135 billion for conservation, drought, and forestry programs to reduce carbon emissions and prevent wildfires; clean energy investments; agricultural climate research; Civilian Climate Corps funding, child nutrition and debt relief
Banking: $332 billion for housing programs, including down payment and rental assistance and community investment
Commerce: $83 billion for technology and transportation; coastal resilience and oceans; funding for the National Science Foundation.
Energy: $198 billion for clean electricity; rebates to weatherize and electrify homes; financing for domestic manufacturing of clean energy and auto supply chain technologies; federal procurement of energy efficient materials; climate research
Environment and Public Works: $67 billion for low-income solar and climate-friendly technologies; clean water affordability and access; EPA climate and research programs; federal investments in energy efficient buildings and green materials
Finance: At least $1 billion in deficit reduction. ‘This will provide the Committee with flexibility to make investment, revenue and offset decisions consistent with the policy recommendations,’ the instructions state. Offsets to include: Corporate and international tax reform; taxing high-income individuals; IRS tax enforcement
Health, Education, Labor and Pensions: $726 billion for universal pre-K for 3 and 4-year olds; child care; tuition-free community college; investments in HBCUs, MSIs, HSIs, TCUs, and ANNHIs; increase the maximum Pell grant award; School infrastructure, student success grants, and educator investments; Investments in primary care; pandemic preparedness
Homeland Security: $37 billion for electrifying the federal vehicle fleet; electrifying federal buildings; improving cybersecurity infrastructure; border management investments; investments in green materials and resilience
Judiciary: $107 billion for lawful permanent status for qualified immigrants and border security
Indian Affairs: $20.5 billion for native health, education, housing, energy and climate programs and facilities
Small Business: $25 billion for small business access to credit, investment, and markets
Veterans Affairs: $18 billion for upgrades to VA facilities