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Pelosi tells Dems no vote on infrastructure without $3.5T budget package

Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Democrats Wednesday she would not bring up President Joe Biden‘s bipartisan infrastructure bill for a vote in the House until the Senate passes a $3.5 trillion budget containing a wish list of liberal items, including free kindergarten and clean energy development. 

Her decision was a disappointment to moderates in her party but a boon to liberals. 

‘I am not freelancing. This is the consensus,’ she said on a call with House Democrats, according to The Hill newspaper.

‘The president has said he’s all for the bipartisan approach … bravo! That’s progress, but it ain’t the whole vision,’ Pelosi said on the call. ‘The votes in the House and Senate depend on us having both bills.’ 

The speaker had made that stance clear before but she doubled down now that the reality of the vote was near. The House returns to session the week of August 23 – a week earlier than planned – but, given Pelosi’s announcement, lawmakers will not be voting on the infrastructure package at that time. 

Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Democrats she would not bring up Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure bill for a vote in the House without the Senate approving a $3.5 trillion budget

The Senate, led by Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, approved the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package and sent to the House and took first steps on the budget

The Senate, led by Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, approved the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package and sent to the House and took first steps on the budget

The Senate approved the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package, which funds traditional projects like roads, highways and ports, this week.

The Senate also took the first steps in passing the $3.5 trillion budget, spearheaded by Sen. Bernie Sanders. That budget contains funds for universal pre-kindergarten, tuition-free community college, paid family leave and clean energy source development. It also allocates billions toward helping immigrant workers onto a pathway to citizenship.

The bipartisan bill has moved on to the House. The budget bill must pass one more vote in the Senate before moving on to the other chamber. 

Pelosi’s Democratic lawmakers are making their feelings know. 

A half-dozen House moderates wrote a letter urging Pelosi to give the bipartisan bill a vote without linking it to anything else. 

But liberals made it clear they would not vote for one piece of legislation without the other. Pelosi, who only holds a five-seat majority in the House, cannot pass either piece of legislation without the liberal wing of her party. 

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, the head of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, informed Pelosi in a letter on Tuesday that she had taken a poll of their liberal members, who said they would not support the infrastructure bill without the budget reconciliation package.

‘A majority of respondents affirmed that they would withhold their votes in support of the bipartisan legislation in the House of Representatives until the Senate adopted a robust reconciliation package,’ Jayapal wrote. 

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other progressives vowed not to support President Joe Biden's bipartisan infrastructure plan without a second bill

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other progressives vowed not to support President Joe Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure plan without a second bill

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (center) led the effort in Senate to pass the $3.5 trillion budget bill

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (center) led the effort in Senate to pass the $3.5 trillion budget bill

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her fellow members of ‘The Squad’ are part of that group. 

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

The Democrat from New York has been clear she will not support one piece of legislation without the other.

‘If there is not a reconciliation bill in the House and if the Senate does not pass a reconciliation bill, we will uphold our end of the bargain and not pass the bipartisan bill until we get all of these investments in,’ Ocasio-Cortez said on CNN’s ‘State of the Union.’ She added that the contents of the bipartisan bill ‘are not all, you know, Candyland. There are some of these political pay-fors that are very alarming.’ 

Additionally, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Wednesday that President Biden wants the reconciliation bill passed ‘as soon as he can sign it into law. He looks forward to signing it into law. But we know, as was announced yesterday, the House is going to be coming back next week. They’re eager to get to work. We’ll be deeply engaged in conversations when they return as well,’ she said.

Senate Democrats passed the framework of a $3.5trillion infrastructure bill early Wednesday morning without any Republican votes and in a second victory for Biden after approving his $1.2trillion infrastructure agreement.

The chamber voted 50-49 along party lines to send the massive spending proposal to committees so they can draft a bill that includes huge investments in amnesty for migrants, community college, climate initiatives and healthcare.

Furious Republicans accused the Democrats of letting Bernie Sanders dictate their policy and have called the package a ‘reckless tax and spending spree’.

They have also nicknamed it the ‘Bernie budget.’ 

Republicans argued that Democrats’ proposals would waste money, raise economy-wounding taxes, fuel inflation and codify far-left dictates that would harm Americans. They were happy to use Sanders, a self-avowed democratic socialist, to try tarring all Democrats backing the measure.   

If Biden and Senate Democrats want to ‘outsource domestic policy to Chairman Sanders’ with a ‘historically reckless taxing and spending spree,’ Republicans lack the votes to stop them, conceded Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. ‘But we will debate. We will vote.’ 

Meanwhile Sanders lauded the bill.

‘It will also, I hope, restore the faith of the American people in the belief that we can have a government that works for all of us, and not just the few,’ he said.

On the opposite side of the Democratic Party, some moderates have expressed concern about the $3.5 trillion price tag. 

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, whose late night ‘Yes’ vote was his first public indication of support for the bill, explained his affirmation on Twitter in a lengthy statement cautioning his colleagues against ‘continuing to spend at irresponsible levels.’ 

‘I urge my colleagues to seriously consider this reality as this budget process unfolds in the coming weeks and months,’ he wrote. 

Arizona Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema also expressed concern.

‘After reviewing the Senate Budget Committee’s outline, I have told Senate leadership and President Biden that I support many of the goals in this proposal,’ she said in a statement last month. ‘I have also made clear that while I will support beginning this process, I do not support a bill that costs $3.5 trillion.’  

Mitch McConnell called the $3.5 trillion budget bill a 'reckless taxing and spending spree'

Mitch McConnell called the $3.5 trillion budget bill a ‘reckless taxing and spending spree’

Joe Manchin's 'yes' vote was followed by a condemnation of the blueprint's hefty pricetag

Joe Manchin’s ‘yes’ vote was followed by a condemnation of the blueprint’s hefty pricetag

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer assured progressives who worry the compromise bill doesn’t go far enough that Congress will pursue sweeping initiatives going beyond that infrastructure package.

‘To my colleagues who are concerned that this does not do enough on climate, for families, and making corporations and the rich pay their fair share: We are moving on to a second track, which will make a generational transformation in these areas,’ Schumer said.


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