House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has backed down in the face of progressives’ demands and set a new, later deadline for the passage of a $1.1 trillion infrastructure bill that Democrats are labeling as “bipartisan.”
According to The Hill, Pelosi said she now hopes to have the bill approved in Congress’ lower chamber by the end of October.
“There is an October 31st Surface Transportation Authorization deadline, after last night’s passage of a critical 30-day extension,” Pelosi said in a letter to colleagues Saturday, referring to federal highway programs that are set to expire at the end of the month.
“We must pass BIF [bipartisan infrastructure framework] well before then,” she said, “the sooner the better, to get the jobs out there.”
It was a little over a week ago that Pelosi assured everyone that the House would vote on the infrastructure package on Monday, Sept. 27. Pelosi ended up having to change that deadline to Thursday, Oct. 7, then Friday, Oct. 8, and now, to Halloween day.
The reason for the delay, according to reports, is that Pelosi and Democratic leadership were simply not able to unite progressives in the Democratic caucus and their more moderate counterparts behind the deal.
Progressives are currently using the leverage they have in the lower chamber to try to force fellow congressional Democrats to pass President Joe Biden’s $3.5 trillion “Build Back Better” proposal alongside the infrastructure package.
The problem is that the moderates have refused to capitulate. Most notably, Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), despite being extensively worked on by Democratic leadership, have refused to give in to the demands of the progressives.
Considering that either one of the senators’ votes is enough to doom Biden’s proposal, Pelosi was forced to end the week with neither a vote on the $3.5 trillion proposal nor the $1.1 trillion one in the House.
“While great progress has been made in the negotiations to develop a House, Senate, and White House agreement on the Build Back Better Act, more time is needed to complete the task,” Pelosi wrote in her Saturday letter to House Dems, according to Fox News. “Our priority to create jobs in the health care, family and climate agendas is a shared value. Our Chairs are still working for clarity and consensus. Clearly, the Bipartisan Infrastructure bill will pass once we have agreement on the reconciliation bill.”
In other words, the progressives’ ploy worked.
Only time will tell if Pelosi can get her ducks in a row — and her caucus on the same page — by the time her newest deadline rolls around.