In a so-called “Dear Colleague” letter, Pelosi told her fellow Democrats that while she hoped the bill that comes to the floor will call for $3.5 trillion in spending, in accordance with the budget framework passed by the House last month, “[w]e must be prepared for adjustments”.
Pelosi has held off on bringing a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill previously passed by the Senate up for a vote while congressional Democrats and the White House try to beat out the details of the larger proposal — which they hope to force through both chambers without Republican help through the parliamentary maneuver of reconciliation.
Though, Pelosi committed on Aug. 24 to holding a vote on the bipartisan measure by Sept. 27. In the meantime, progressive Democrats have warned that they will vote to kill the infrastructure bill if the $3.5 trillion spending plan has not passed both houses of Congress by then.
One of those progressive Democrats, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), verified to reporters Monday that there would be a “no” vote on the infrastructure bill if the reconciliation measure had not passed.
“You have a very small destructive group of members who want to hold the entire country’s agenda hostage for an arbitrary date,” she stated, according to CNN. “And this is not, it’s not representative of the agenda of the caucus, it’s not representative of the agenda of the president, and we need to stay focused on the original, on the original process that allowed us to move forward in the first place.”
Another progressive Democrat, Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington, shrugged off the proposal by moderates that she and her left-wing colleagues were bluffing regarding fighting the infrastructure bill, telling reporters: “They can take that bet if they want.”
It’s not clear how many House Republicans would vote to back the $1.2 trillion measure, though moderates explain it’s unlikely they would support it in sufficient numbers to overcome a progressive revolt.
“The sense early on was, if it was the Squad, we could overcome that,” Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), a member of the bipartisan House Problem Solvers Caucus, told CNN. “If it was a jailbreak beyond that on the left, that would be a challenge.”
On Monday, the chairman of the House Budget Committee warned that action on the bigger bill may not be feasible until next week — if Democrats can even match on what the bigger bill looks like.
“Basically, everything’s sort of dependent on what happens in the next 48 hours,” Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) told reporters Monday. A day earlier, Yarmuth told “Fox News Sunday” that work on the reconciliation package could slip “sometime into early October” and acknowledged that the final topline amount would likely “be somewhat less than $3.5 trillion.”