WASHINGTON (AP) – Faced with the moderates, House Democratic leaders tried to get President Joe Biden’s multi-trillion dollar budget bill over a major hurdle and worked overnight to facilitate an internal party showdown that held the danger insists that their domestic infrastructure agenda is turned upside down.
Tensions flared up and spilled over into early Tuesday as a group of moderate lawmakers threatened to withhold their votes on the $ 3.5 trillion plan. They called for the House of Representatives to first approve a $ 1 trillion package of road, power, broadband and other infrastructure projects that the Senate has already passed.
Despite hours of negotiation in the Capitol, the House of Representatives stalled late Monday and plans were set in motion late Monday as leaders and lawmakers huddled privately to negotiate an agreement. Shortly after midnight, the heads of state and government announced that no further votes would take place until Tuesday’s meeting.
House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi pleaded with Democrats at a private meeting not to get bogged down and miss this chance to deliver on the promises Biden and the party made to Americans.
“Right now we have the opportunity to say goodbye to something so essential to our country that is so transformative that we’ve never seen anything like it,” Pelosi said, according to a person who requested anonymity to disclose the private comments.
Pelosi told them it was “regrettable” that they were discussing the process when they were supposed to be discussing politics. “We cannot waste this majority and this democratic White House by not saying goodbye to what we have to do,” she said.
With Republicans wholeheartedly opposed to the president’s grand plans, Democratic leaders sought a way out of a potentially devastating stalemate between the moderate and progressive wings of the party that threatens Biden’s agenda.
Pelosi’s leadership tried to circumvent the problem by convincing lawmakers to hold a procedural vote to simply start the process and set aside the political struggle for the months to come if they can find details within the overall budget proposal of 3, Will work out and discuss $ 5 trillion.
One by one, powerful committee chairs urged their colleagues to move forward.
“There is still a long way to go on legislative issues that will play out over the next month. But right now this is about the discussion: let the House continue, ”said MP Richard Neal, D-Mass., Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.
But it quickly became clear that the moderates were not on board, and as soon as a session was interrupted, a number of other private sessions were called with them for further discussion, including in Pelosi’s office. Once upon a time, bags of take-away were delivered nearby. What had been a night of scheduled votes came to an unexpected halt.
Nine moderate Democrats challenged their party’s most powerful leaders and signed a letter late last week in which they objected to Biden’s broader infrastructure proposal, ignoring first the smaller public blueprint that the Senate has already passed. Other moderates have raised similar concerns in recent days.
“I am amazed at my party’s misguided strategy of making the passage of the popular, already-written, bipartisan infrastructure law conditional on the passage of the controversial, yet-to-be-written, partisan Reconciliation Act,” wrote MP Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla Leader of the centrist Blue Dog Caucus at the Orlando Sentinel. “It’s bad politics and, yes, bad politics.”
In the narrowly divided House of Representatives, every vote counts, and a few dissenters could potentially destroy the hopes of the democratic majority that a proposal will be adopted.
With the bulk of Biden’s domestic agenda at stake, it is inconceivable that Pelosi, D-Calif., Would allow an embarrassing defeat. That’s especially true because the package is filled with priorities like childcare, paid family vacation, and a Medicare extension, which are hard-won party goals. It also comes because the president is already being criticized for his handling of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The $ 3.5 trillion budget decision will set the stage for more legislation this fall to fill out this draft, and committees are already working on how that money will benefit the social safety net, the environment and over the next decade other programs should be output.
The budget measure is at the heart of Biden’s “Build Back Better” vision to support families and fight climate change and is a top priority for the progressives, largely funded by tax hikes for the rich and big business.
Progressives signaled early on that they wanted Biden’s budget priorities first before agreeing to the smaller package, fearing it would be an insufficient down payment for its goals.
But the moderates want the opposite and insist that Congress quickly send the smaller, non-partisan infrastructure measure to Biden so he can sign it before the political winds turn. That would nail a victory to point to in their re-election campaigns next year.
“The House cannot afford to wait months or do anything to risk it being passed,” said Rep. Josh Gottheimer, DN.J., late last week. He is a leader of the nine moderate loners, each of whom issued statements reiterating their wish that infrastructure vote should come first.
So far, the White House has backed Pelosi as she led her party on a tightly-defined strategy aimed at keeping moderate and progressive lawmakers on board, aiming to get both bills passed by October 1.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki underscored Biden’s support for Pelosi’s plans on Monday. Psaki considered it a “healthy debate” within the party, saying it was “a high-level issue” while Democrats debated the details of the legislation.
Progressives criticize their colleagues and warn that they are thwarting Biden’s plans.
MP Cori Bush, D-Mo., Said the budget was “not a political game. It is an opportunity to fulfill our agenda. “She said in a statement,” We are not here to make policy of people’s lives – we are here to adopt transformative policies. “
Republicans said the $ 3.5 trillion Democratic effort was inadequate to “address the crisis American families are facing” and would result in higher inflation and deficits.
“The inflation crisis, the border crisis, the energy crisis, the Afghanistan crisis – this budget only makes it worse,” said Jason Smith Rep. Of Missouri, Republican chief on the House of Representatives budget committee.
The conservative House Freedom Caucus said it was against both Biden’s budget and the bipartisan infrastructure bill.
Associate press writers Alan Fram and Jonathan Lemire contributed to this report.