A group of bipartisan lawmakers on Friday urged House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to put “country over politics” and not stand in the way of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure deal.
The Congressional Problems Solvers Caucus, made up of 60 bipartisan lawmakers from both the House and Senate, pressed the speaker to hold a “stand-alone” vote on the package.
Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat, pledged to block the infrastructure deal until the Senate passes, along party lines if necessary, a $3.5 trillion social spending package.
Rep. Josh Gottheimer, a New Jersey Democrat who is co-chairman of the problem solvers caucus, said that positioning only exacerbates the “uncivil war that pits red against blue.”
“I’m confident when this bill gets sent to the House from the Senate, with President [Biden] and the White House fully behind it, we will take it up quickly for a strong, standalone, bipartisan vote because that’s what this country wants,” said Mr. Gottheimer, adding that his caucus would not let “anything get in the way” of such a vote.
Rep. Dusty Johnson, a South Dakota Republican, echoed the comments, urging Mrs. Pelosi to honor “the legislative breakthrough” made on infrastructure.
“I don’t want to press my luck. I’m not asking Speaker Pelosi today to support the bill. I’m asking for something a lot more basic, to give us a vote,” Mr. Johnson said. “Let us vote.”
Mrs. Pelosi has refused to compromise on her demand that the social welfare package pass the Senate before the infrastructure deal is considered in the House.
“I’m hopeful that we would have a bipartisan bill. I think it would be really important to demonstrate the bipartisanship that has always been a hallmark of our infrastructure legislation,” she said recently. “But we’re not going down the path unless we all go down the path together.”
The $3.5 trillion social welfare package contains a slew of liberal priorities, including health care, climate change and anti-poverty initiatives. Democrats also plan to push for amnesty for illegal immigrants and new mandates phasing out fossil fuels, such as coal and natural gas, from the electrical grid.
Since that bill is unlikely to garner Republican support, Democrats plan to pass it along party lines via a process known as budget reconciliation. The process allows some spending and tax measures to avoid the Senate’s 60-vote filibuster threshold and pass with 51 votes.
Complicating matters is that bipartisan support is vital to the infrastructure deal, unlike the reconciliation package. To pass, the infrastructure bill needs at least 10 GOP votes to overcome a filibuster within the evenly split Senate.
Some Republicans argue there is no point voting for the infrastructure deal, while Mrs. Pelosi is holding it hostage in exchange for a big-spending package of Democratic priorities.
“Once they pass this [infrastructure] bill out of the Senate, it will sit in the House until they get steamrolled by the biggest government expansion in a generation,” said former President Donald Trump. “Infrastructure is just a ‘carrot’ for a massive socialist expansion.”