Centrist Democratic lawmakers on Friday demanded an immediate vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill — and vowed they won’t back President Biden’s $3.5 trillion plan if they don’t get their way.
The nine moderates, led by Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), threatened to scuttle the bigger package unless House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) brings up the $1.2 trillion public works bill for a final vote first.
“It’s time to get shovels in the ground and people to work,” the letter to Pelosi stated.
It was the latest salvo in a Democrats-only game of political chicken that threatens to derail Biden’s two-track push to enact both bills.
A much larger group of progressive Democrats insist they will only vote for the smaller plan in tandem with the bigger one, which won’t be ready for a vote till next month at the earliest.
Democratic leaders including Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) have mostly sided with the progressives on the timing of the votes, although they appear open to scaling back the bigger bill to placate moderates in both the House and Senate.
The Senate passed the $1.2 trillion bill in a 69-30 vote, also approving a placeholder budget bill that would open the door to the $3.5 trillion measure in a party-line tally.
The House could at any time approve the smaller package, which has been billed as a once-in-a-generation effort to fix America’s crumbling roads, airports, bridges and railroads. It would then go to Biden’s desk for his signature.
The nine moderates say they will not vote to advance the bigger package until the bipartisan bill is signed by Biden. With just a three-vote majority in the House, Democrats need their support to pass the budget measure.
Progressives fear moderates will yank support for the bigger bill once they get their way on the smaller one.
It’s unclear how big a snag the letter may cause Democrats as they seek to win passage of both the bipartisan bill and the much bigger so-called “human infrastructure” package, which includes huge new spending for education, health care and aid to families.
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