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House infrastructure vote on schedule for Thursday, Pelosi says

US Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, holds her weekly press briefing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on September 30, 2021.

Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images

WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the chamber was still on track to hold a vote on a bipartisan infrastructure bill Thursday, even as members of her own Democratic caucus said she did not yet have the support of enough progressives to pass the bill.

“We’re on a path to have something, that I can say to my colleagues with integrity and certainty is the path we’re on” Pelosi told reporters. But she added, “And in terms of timing and the rest, I wish we had more time.”

Pelosi and President Joe Biden have tried to win support for the infrastructure bill among progressives, who say they will not vote for it unless the House is also ready to pass a sweeping budget reconciliation bill to expand the social safety net and climate policy.

But fundamental parts of that bill are still being debated in the Senate. House progressives are worried that if they vote to pass an infrastructure bill championed by moderates, they will lose any leverage they have in pushing these same moderates to back a transformative budget bill later on.

Progressives insist that any budget reconciliation bill be at least $3 trillion, and include provisions like free preschool and community college, child-care subsidies and an expansion of Medicare to cover dental, vision and hearing care.

But on Thursday, centrist Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin released a signed agreement he reached with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, more than two months ago, in July, that spells out what Manchin would support in a budget bill.

The maximum topline spending that Manchin would vote for is $1.5 trillion.

This leaves both House and Senate progressives and Manchin more than $1 trillion apart.

Even some of Pelosi’s closest allies in the House leadership are pessimistic about the bipartisan infrastructure bill’s chances.

While Pelosi was speaking to reporters in the Capitol, another journalist asked Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, her deputy, what he thought the odds were of passage.

“Are you confident it will pass?”  

“Nope,” Hoyer replied.

Many on Capitol Hill are still betting that Pelosi can nail down the votes, however. Her ability to find consensus within an often fractious Democratic caucus is legendary, and she appeared to relish the high stakes and ticking clock Thursday.

“As we come to the end, let me just tell you about negotiating at the end,” Pelosi told the reporters. “That’s when you really have to weigh in. You cannot tire. You cannot concede. This is the fun part.”

This is a developing story, please check back for updates.

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2021-09-30 15:30:06

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