House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is daring her majority’s far-left faction to tank President Biden‘s domestic agenda by forcing a vote on the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure deal.
Mrs. Pelosi, a California Democrat, is planning to hold a vote on the infrastructure bill as early as Thursday. The speaker has privately told lawmakers, according to a Democratic aide, that she will hold the vote open for as long as is needed until the legislation either passes or fails.
“This is professional, let’s do it in a timely fashion and not leave doubt when it will happen,” said Mrs. Pelosi.
In preparation for the vote, Mrs. Pelosi released the 1,684-page text of Mr. Biden‘s $1.75 trillion expansion of the federal safety net. The tactic is meant to strong-arm far-left Democrats, who have linked the larger bill to the infrastructure deal, claiming that one cannot move without the other.
The 98 members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus have long said they are unwilling to accept anything short of full legislative text on the reconciliation deal, before agreeing to back the infrastructure package. Mr. Biden announced a framework of the larger deal Thursday morning.
“We’ve had frameworks for the last six months tossed around and we haven’t had a vote, so I don’t think a framework is enough,” said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, New York Democrat. “What we need is text.”
Mrs. Pelosi‘s decision to release the text seems to invalidate the argument.
“People have said ‘I want to see the text,’” Mrs. Pelosi SAID. “The text is up for review. … This is the legislative process.”
Progressives are further demanding that the infrastructure bill pass alongside the reconciliation package in the House.
“I don’t really care which one [comes first] if they’re on the same day and you want to vote on the [infrastructure bill] first and the reconciliation bill three hours later,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal, Washington Democrat, who chairs the CPC. “We need to get both bills out. We want to get both bills out.”
Mrs. Pelosi, however, wants to secure passage of the infrastructure bill before federal funding for roads and highways runs out at the end of this month.
Part of that push is also political. Mr. Biden met with House Democrats in person at the Capitol on Thursday to urge unity and speedy action on his legislative agenda.
Mr. Biden‘s intercession has sparked fears of embarrassment if Democrats are forced to delay the infrastructure vote again, as they have already done twice. Such concerns are especially keen as Mr. Biden departs for an extended overseas trip where he will meet with foreign leaders, Pope Francis and attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland.
“What this legislation will do is to help the president meet his goals, the goals of America,” Mrs. Pelosi said. “When he goes to meetings with the G-20 now and then to meet his Holiness, the pope, and to go to Glasgow, we want him to go as strong as possible.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, compared the situation on infrastructure to the popular cartoon Peanuts.
“I wonder if the president feels a little like Charlie Brown in that famous scene with the football,” Mr. McCarthy said. “His advisers tell him to come back up to the Hill, they promise this time Speaker Pelosi won’t pull it out from under him. But we’ll find out today if she does the exact same thing.”
Correction: An earlier version incorrectly stated the number of pages of President Biden‘s $1.75 trillion social welfare bill. The correct number is 1,684, and the story has been updated.