WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pledged to pass a $550 billion infrastructure bill this week and signaled that the headline amount on a bigger package of spending and tax measures will be lowered from $3.5 trillion.
In a nod to moderate Democrats eager to enact the road-and-bridges bill, Pelosi said she will put the Senate-passed measure forward on Monday, though she suggested wiggle room on the timing of the vote.
“Well, let me just say we’re going to pass the bill this week,” she said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. “We will bring the bill tomorrow for consideration.”
Divisions between progressive and moderate Democratic factions will lead to a showdown over President Joe Biden’s economic agenda starting Monday with Pelosi facing competing demands to keep both bills on track to Biden’s desk.
Progressives, whose votes are likely to be crucial, are insisting on progress first on the bigger bill, which includes spending on everything from child care to climate protection. Moderates such as West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin have said the price tag is too high.
More negotiations on the package lie ahead, “especially in terms of addressing the climate crisis,” and it “seems self-evident” that the headline number is going to be smaller than $3.5 trillion, Pelosi said on ABC.
In a letter to her Democratic caucus on Saturday, Pelosi said “we must pass” both bills this week. “The next few days will be a time of intensity,” she said.
Congressional Democrats are using a fast-track budget process known as reconciliation to push the bigger of the two plans through the Senate, bypassing Republicans. The House Budget Committee advanced a draft version of the bill on Saturday, a required procedural step before it can be brought to a floor vote.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal, a leading progressive, said she doubts there will be a vote on the infrastructure bill on Monday amid pressure from left-leaning lawmakers to agree on the bigger package first.
“I don’t believe there will be a vote,” the Washington Democrat said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. “The votes aren’t there.”
Rep. Josh Gottheimer, a key moderate, said the bottom line is that “we vote on it early this week.”
“And that’s going to happen,” the New Jersey Democrat said on CNN.
Also on Congress’ agenda is avoiding a federal government shutdown looming at the end of the month and a potential default on U.S. government obligations in the weeks ahead.
The Senate is expected to vote this week to take up a House-passed stopgap funding bill that includes a suspension of the debt ceiling, though Republican opposition is likely to block its consideration.
Pelosi said she’s still hopeful for enough Republicans to find “some level of responsibility” and join in raising the debt limit. “We want this to be bipartisan,” she said.
At the same time, she said: “We need to make sure we keep government open — and we will.”
Pat Toomey, Republican senator of Pennsylvania, said Republicans won’t vote to raise the debt ceiling, and Democrats will have to do so “all by themselves.” He spoke on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
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