House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) continues to struggle in her effort to unite liberals and moderates in her party behind a pair of massive spending bills.
Now, she is facing criticism from centrist Democrats after she caved to progressives by delaying a vote on a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill that has already passed in the Senate.
“Firm, public commitment”
Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-NY) and Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) slammed the speaker on Friday for not holding a vote on the measure even after promising them that she would.
For their part, progressives threatened to derail the bill if they were not permitted to first vote on a partisan $3.5 trillion bill currently under consideration in committees.
Gottheimer issued a statement describing the delay as “deeply regrettable” and accusing Pelosi of reneging on a “firm, public commitment” to lawmakers that the infrastructure bill would be put to a vote this week.
“Along with a group of members, I’ve been working around-the-clock to pass the bipartisan bill, legislation we helped craft back in April with my senate colleagues,” he wrote. “But a small far-left faction of the House of Representatives undermined that agreement and blocked a critical vote on the president’s historic bipartisan infrastructure bill.”
At least 48 progressive lawmakers signaled that they would vote against the smaller bill if the larger one did not pass first.
“What comports with my conscience”
Murphy, who co-chairs the moderate Blue Dog Coalition, echoed Gottheimer’s sentiment in a statement of her own, asserting that she was “profoundly disappointed and disillusioned” by the delays and decrying the “misguided effort” of some in her party to exert “leverage” over fellow Democrats.
Although she supports both bills, Murphy said she does not believe there should be a contingency to allow one to pass only after the other one has.
“There is no—zero—linkage between these two bills in my mind,” she continued. “I will continue to assess each bill on its own merits and to cast my vote accordingly.”
As for pressure from the left, she made it clear that none of her colleagues “has the slightest leverage” over which way she will vote on a particular bill, adding: “I will do what I believe is in the best interest of my constituents and my country, and what comports with my conscience.”
As for the larger bill’s prospects, it appears that moderate Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), both of whom have balked at its price tag, could doom the legislation in an evenly divided Senate. Meanwhile, Republicans are clearly hopeful that the infighting will continue and spending can be restrained until after next year’s midterms, at which point the GOP is expected to regain a majority in one or both chambers of Congress.