House Speaker Nancy Pelosi threw in the towel on getting the Thursday floor vote that she had hoped would deliver a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill to President Biden.
In a “Dear Colleague” letter, Mrs. Pelosi acknowledged that “Discussions continue with the House, Senate and White House to reach a bicameral framework agreement to Build Back Better through a reconciliation bill.”
The bill, which the California Democrat originally planned to bring to the floor Monday but moved to Thursday, could not attract enough support from House progressives, who demanded the legislation be paired with Mr. Biden’s $3.5 trillion social welfare package.
Despite late-night negotiations, House Democratic leaders had contended a floor vote would happen. But Democratic lawmakers from the progressive caucus kept indicating that at least 60 of their 95 members would not vote for the measure.
“We will have a reconciliation bill. That is for sure,” Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat, told reporters at a press conference Thursday afternoon. “We cannot convince people to vote for the infrastructure bill without a clear path for reconciliation.”
Democrats who were doubtful the bill would be voted on Thursday told The Washington Times that Republicans are likely to celebrate the delay, but Democrats are not finished trying to push the spending packages across the finish line.
“It should not be something that Republicans cheer over. They will probably take delight in the fact that it’s being delayed,” Rep. Mark Takano, California Democrat, said in an interview.
He added the delay should not be interpreted as a rejection or defeat of the bill itself but a continuation of negotiations of differences within the Democratic caucus.
The final outcome of the infrastructure package rests on whether House and Senate Democrats can reach an agreement on a separate, more expansive $3.5 trillion social spending “reconciliation” bill that liberals wanted to tack on to the infrastructure bill.
However, Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona pushed back against the $3.5 trillion price tag. Mr. Manchin told reporters Thursday afternoon he was willing to support a $1.5 trillion spending deal — an agreement he made in writing back in July with Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer.
Members of the far-left “Squad” hit back at Mr. Manchin’s top-line number as insufficient.
“For one year,” quipped Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, New York Democrat, when asked whether $1.5 trillion is enough.
Rep. Cori Bush, Missouri Democrat, said the lower number would anger low-income people, saying it told them that “you all don’t deserve the investment in climate. You all don’t deserve two years of college. Who is he taking the money from?”
However, Rep. Josh Gottheimer, New Jersey Democrat and co-chair of the Problem Solvers caucus, said it was significant that House Democrats saw and heard Mr. Manchin voicing his support for social welfare spending programs, despite his top-line number being below what progressives want.
“I think it was very helpful to see Sen. Manchin out there today talking about child care, talking about universal pre-K, talking about home health care, and seeing him actually talking about those issues, and saying that he’s for reconciliation,” he said. “It gives me faith that we’re actually going to get reconciliation done.”