House to Vote on Infrastructure, Budget Vote Delayed

September 29, 2021

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has scheduled a vote on the Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure bill for Sept. 30, and in doing so, informed her party that they may have to wait to vote on the reconciliation package. In August, the Senate passed the infrastructure bill to spend hundreds of billions of dollars upgrading roads, bridges, transit, rail, broadband, airports, ports and waterways.

This change—in moving the two measures separately—comes even though progressive Democrats wanted, and Speaker Pelosi, initially agreed, that both chambers would pass that package before the House took up the Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure bill that provides for $550 billion in new spending. But Pelosi acknowledged for the first time on Monday that is no longer feasible.

Now, House Democrats want Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to communicate the topline amount they can support for the Democrats’ budget reconciliation package so negotiations on the substance of the legislation can proceed. Senate Budget Committee Democrats and the White House agreed to a $3.5 trillion topline for the reconciliation package earlier this summer, which most in the party have backed. However, Sens. Sinema and Manchin and some House moderates have said $3.5 trillion is more than they can support, citing concerns about inflation and some of the tax increase proposals.

Speaker Pelosi has acknowledged that the House is not going to pass a bill that cannot pass the Senate, and is the primary reason why President Joe Biden is working on getting a new agreement on a topline number that Sens. Sinema and Manchin can support. Complicating the passage of these measures is Democrats’ narrow congressional majorities. Democrats are seeking Republican cooperation on some matters, but on the partisan reconciliation package they cannot lose a single vote in the Senate or more than three in the House.

House Congressional Progressive Caucus Chairwoman Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) has said most of her members want a vote on reconciliation before infrastructure to ensure both pass. But she suggested a detailed agreement with moderates on the parameters of the reconciliation package could suffice if there is a clear path to ensuring it ultimately passes.

The infrastructure bill passed the Senate last month with 19 of the chamber’s 50 Republicans, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), supporting it. But House Republican leaders are now urging their members to vote against the measure because of its connection to the reconciliation package