Centrist House Democrats are split over how to move forward with their party’s $3.5 trillion liberal spending package.
Rep. Suzan DelBene of Washington, chairwoman of the moderate New Democrats Coalition, said in a statement Friday night that she supports House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s push for the House to pass next week a procedural motion to allow committees to begin writing the massive bill for a vote this fall.
Her group represents 95 Democrats who describe themselves as “fiscally responsible.”
The move is significant because another group of nine centrists has threatened to stop the House from moving ahead with the package, which will include liberal priorities including giving some illegal immigrants a path to citizenship and Green New Deal climate measures. They have said they would not go along with moving forward with the $3.5 trillion package Democrats hope to ram through Congress despite Republican opposition unless the House first passes into law the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill.
That bill, which has passed the Senate, focuses on traditional infrastructure projects like building new roads and bridges and expanding broadband service. With Democrats holding only a 220-to-212 majority in the House, that group — led by Rep. Josh Gottheimer, New Jersey Democrat — still has enough votes to potentially block the bill.
But Mrs. DelBene took a different stance. “Now is time for the House to approve the budget resolution in order to get the reconciliation process started,” Mrs. DelBene said in a statement. A key, she said, is that House committees will draft the bill, which would give the moderates a chance to leave its stamp.
“We will continue to work with our members and relevant committees to make sure the reconciliation bill advances under regular order in both name and spirit, our Members are at the table and have meaningful opportunities to shape the legislation, and the final package reflects New Dem priorities,” Mrs. DelBene said.
Mrs. Pelosi and House leaders have been leaning on moderates to go along with letting the partisan liberal package move ahead. On Thursday, Mrs. Pelosi wrote in a “dear colleagues” letter to fellow House Democrats that “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: expanding the Biden Child Tax Credit, Child Care, paid family and medical leave, universal pre-K, workforce development, veterans, education, climate, housing and many other priorities.”
In a second letter to her colleagues on Friday, Mrs. Pelosi said Assistant Speaker Katherine Clark of Massachusetts and the House Democratic Women’s Caucus support moving ahead with the reconciliation package next week.