- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 28, 2021

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise told reporters Tuesday that the Republican leadership is whipping against the upcoming vote on the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill as a tax and spend package amid hopes that Democratic progressives will kill the bill.

Most House Republicans do not support the infrastructure package. But at least 10 GOP lawmakers have stated publicly they will support the bill, despite Republican leaders’ insistence the bill is “inextricably linked” to President Biden’s $3.5 trillion social welfare package.

“Well, obviously, you’ve seen some of our colleagues in the press saying that they support that bill. We whipped against it, among many reasons because Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi and President Biden have put them together as a package,” Mr. Scalise, Louisiana Republican, told The Washington Times. “And so we’ve whipped against, and we’re working to keep that number as low as we possibly can.”

The minority whip excoriated Democrats for turning down a $450 billion infrastructure bill proposed by Rep. Sam Graves of Louisiana, the ranking Republican on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

“Both Republicans and Democrats had thought they had an agreement with President Biden and within an hour Speaker Pelosi and [Senate Majority Leader] Chuck Schumer went and demanded that President Biden link the two bills — infrastructure with taxes and spending,” Mr. Scalise said. 

Given the likelihood of gaining more than a handful of Republican votes, House Democratic leadership must now reduce the number of progressives who are threatening to vote against the infrastructure bill.

Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat, has yet to persuade enough of those progressives in her caucus to support voting for a stand-alone infrastructure bill instead of voting for the legislation while tacking it on to another massive spending package.

Led by Rep. Pramilla Jayapal, Washington Democrat, progressives claim that at least 60 in the 95 members of their House caucus are willing to vote against the infrastructure bill.

What’s more, Mrs. Pelosi finds herself trying to persuade her members to get in line on the infrastructure vote this week and on a stop-gap funding measure before the government shuts down at midnight Thursday.

Senate Republicans blocked the previous short-term government funding measure because it included a provision that temporarily suspended the debt ceiling.

Republicans, in the meantime, are watching the Democrats in hopes that Mrs. Pelosi, who moved the infrastructure vote from Monday to Thursday, may need to do so again if she fails to have enough members to support the bill.

• Kerry Picket can be reached at kpicket@washingtontimes.com.

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