January 27, 2023

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks during a press conference with mothers supported by child tax credit payments at the U.S. Capitol in Washington July 20, 2021.

Elizabeth Frantz | Reuters

The House Democrats will move to adopting sweeping economic plans next week that they hope will boost the budget and help keep them in power after next year’s midterm elections.

But first, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi must resolve disputes within the party over how best to approve the trillions of dollars of spending that make up President Joe Biden’s economic agenda. The disagreement threatens to stumble on a delicate process as the Democrats seek to pass two bills that would refresh US infrastructure and strengthen the social safety net.

The party seeks to pass separate plans: a bipartisan $ 1 trillion infrastructure bill passed by the Senate, and up to $ 3.5 trillion in investment in social programs and climate policies that only Democrats can work out. The House of Representatives plans next week to follow the Senate in adopting a budget resolution that would allow Democrats to get their spending plan through Congress without a Republican vote.

Pelosi faces a traffic jam from her party’s opposite flanks as she tries to push through the economic agenda. In order to win over progressives who want a large package of spending as well as centrists who are suspicious of the $ 3.5 trillion price tag, the California Democrat has devised a strategy to vote on the two bills after the Senate both approved.

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The plan has stalled. Nine Democrats in the House of Representatives – enough to cost their party a majority vote – have urged Pelosi to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill before the budget is passed.

They reiterated their stance on Sunday, even after the spokeswoman said she would consider moving both measures forward during the same procedural vote next week.

Attempts to appease centrists could alienate liberals. The Progressive Caucus of Congress said last week that a majority of its 96 members said they would not vote for the infrastructure plan until the Senate passed a “robust” budget reconciliation bill.

The traffic jam leaves the path unclear for Democrats as they plan a brief return from their August hiatus to advance their economic agenda.

Rep. Josh Gottheimer, a New Jersey Democrat and one of the lawmakers calling for a separate vote on the bipartisan plan, said Monday it could take months for Democrats to pass their bill, which would delay infrastructure projects. He said he still wanted to push a budget decision after an infrastructure vote.

“The result is that we will find a solution here, and I am optimistic about that,” Gottheimer told CNBC.

A key Democrat on Tuesday put pressure on his colleagues to support the budget measure. Oregon Rep. Peter DeFazio, chairman of the House Committee on Transport and Infrastructure, wrote to the Democrats, urging the Democrats “to support the passage of a budget resolution with me and to keep up pressure to retain a House vote during this legislative process. “

The House Passage of the Infrastructure Act would send it to Biden’s desk for signature.

After the House of Representatives passes a budget decision, the Democrats have yet to work out their final spending plan. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., said he wanted committees in his chamber to finalize their parts of the bill by September 15.

Democratic senators like Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona have proposed cutting spending on the $ 3.5 trillion package. The bill will fail unless all 50 members of the Senate Democratic Group support it.

The Democratic plan envisages expanding Medicare, expanding household tax breaks, promoting childcare and paid vacation, and investing in green energy, among other things.

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