U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) holds her weekly press conference with reporters from Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on May 20, 2021.
Ken Cedeno | Reuters
A group of members of the Democratic and Republican House of Representatives on Tuesday endorsed the bipartisan infrastructure framework created by Senators and the White House, but may have made it difficult to pass through.
The 58-strong Problem Solvers Caucus said in a statement that it “strongly supports” the Senate proposal. If the group’s 29 GOP members vote in favor of the plan, House Democrats will have leeway to lose the support of skeptical progressives and still pass the roughly $ 1.2 trillion infrastructure framework.
However, the group signaled that it could attempt to thwart House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s strategy of passing the bipartisan plan along with a separate Democratic proposal to invest in childcare, education and climate change efforts. In its statement, the Problem Solvers Caucus called for “a swift, independent vote in the House of Representatives” on the bipartisan framework.
Pelosi has indicated she will not take up the compromise infrastructure law or the Democrats’ plan until the Senate passes both of them. The risky strategy arose when the democratic leaders tried to ensure that their centrist and liberal members support both proposals. President Joe Biden’s support in tying the bills together threatened the bipartisan deal until he returned and reassured the GOP senators who backed the infrastructure plan.
The 29 Democratic members of the Problem Solver Caucus have not explicitly threatened to withhold support for either plan if the House of Representatives does not vote on them separately. The group’s statement, however, underscores the challenges Democratic leaders face in trying to get both the bipartisan plan and their broader priorities through Congress in the coming weeks.
A Pelosi adviser said the two proposals are expected to go through Congress at the same time, and the call for the problem-solver caucus after a vote on the bipartisan plan is in line with the plans of the Democratic leaders.
The Senate plans to initially pass both proposals in the coming weeks – or months – after returning from hiatus on July 4. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., said he was aiming to seek votes on the bipartisan framework and a budgetary resolution that would allow Democrats to pass a second bill without Republican support.
The $ 1.2 trillion infrastructure effort includes $ 579 billion in new spending. It would put more than $ 300 billion in transportation and more than $ 250 billion in power, broadband, and water infrastructure.
While at least 21 senators and the White House have signed the plan, lawmakers have not yet turned it into law.
Several liberal senators have threatened to oppose the bipartisan package. Among other things, they say the proposal does not invest enough in fighting climate change or promoting the adoption of electric vehicles.
By combining the narrower proposal with a larger bill full of democratic priorities, party leaders hoped to keep the progressives on board with both measures.
On Tuesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said she expected the government to work with lawmakers over the next week while negotiations and law-writing take place “behind the scenes”. She added that she expects Biden to push for priorities under the Atonement Act that are excluded from the bipartisan plan, such as climate tax credits and affordable housing policies.
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