President Joe Biden and Democratic lawmakers have spent months promising to make good on a big-spending agenda. Events this week, however, suggest that their agenda is in increasing jeopardy.
According to the Washington Examiner, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) decided late on Thursday to once again postpone a scheduled vote on a $1.1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package.
The Democratic caucus has been at an impasse over disagreements about spending legislation including a $3.5 trillion plan being pushed by the Biden administration.
Progressives in the party want a vote on the larger partisan bill before the infrastructure bill is considered. Dozens of lawmakers have vowed to tank the smaller bill if their demand is not met.
At the same time, moderates are refusing to sign on to the larger bill, meaning that any vote called by Pelosi would be almost sure to fail given the slim majority Democrats have in the chamber. For that reason, Pelosi delayed the vote, first from Monday to Thursday, and then again amid continuing disagreement.
Negotiations reportedly lasted throughout much of the night on Thursday, with moderate Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) serving as a key figure in those intraparty talks. He has balked at the size and scope of the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package and, given the current makeup of the Senate, could stop the bill dead in its tracks.
Top party leaders in both chambers and in the White House have reportedly all been lobbying Manchin to get on board, but he has thus far refused to give in.
“I don’t see a deal tonight,” Manchin acknowledged to reporters at about 10 p.m.
Although negotiations continued for a few hours beyond that statement, Manchin was ultimately right. Pelosi sent a letter to her Democratic colleagues confirming the inevitable.
“It has been a day of progress in fulfilling the President’s vision to Build Back Better,” she wrote. “Thanks to so many Members and staff, the work is being done. Discussions continue with the House, Senate and White House to reach a bicameral framework agreement to Build Back Better.”
The White House also attempted to paint the outcome in the most positive light, stating: “A great deal of progress has been made this week, and we are closer to an agreement than ever. But we are not there yet, and so, we will need some additional time to finish the work, starting tomorrow morning first thing.”
Negotiations are expected to continue, but it is unclear when — or if — an agreement will be reached.