House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been working furiously behind the scenes this evening to build support for the roughly $1 trillion infrastructure bill, personally calling Democrats and talking to members on the House floor as progressives threaten to tank it.
Liberal Democrats are expressing confidence they have the numbers to block the bill in order to push moderates to support their top priority: a $3.5 trillion bill known as the Build Back Better Act.
That legislation would expand the child tax credit and Medicare’s ability to cover vision, hearing and dental care, fund community college and universal pre-kindergarten initiatives, combat climate change, and fund elder care and paid leave programs.
The $3.5 trillion bill would be paid for, at least in part, by tax increases primarily on corporations and the wealthy.
However, Pelosi’s effort to pass the infrastructure bill is complicated by West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, a moderate Democrat who said Thursday he would support a much smaller, $1.5 trillion bill expanding the social safety net.
White House officials are huddling with top aides to Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and trying to see if they can get a deal with Manchin and fellow moderate Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona on a framework of a social safety net package, according to a senator familiar with the matter.
With a split Senate and a slim hold on the House, Democrats are leveraging their power to make sure their colleagues support their bills, which comprise President Biden’s domestic agenda.
Progressives say they’ll withhold their support on the bipartisan infrastructure package until moderates strike a deal with them on the Build Back Better Act. Washington state Rep. Pramila Jayapal, the Congressional Progressive Caucus chairwoman, told CNN she was not worried that her liberal colleagues will break ranks.
“I have never seen our caucus so strong,” said Jayapal. “And I’m a very good vote counter, also, maybe not quite as good as Nancy Pelosi sometimes, but I’m excellent.”
Read more about where things stand in negotiations here.