Democrats will put their entire spending agenda up for a key test vote Monday night, and it will require near-total cooperation from all party lawmakers, including unhappy centrists who want faster consideration of a bipartisan infrastructure bill.
The House will likely vote Monday night on whether to advance a $1.2 trillion infrastructure package as well as a $3.5 trillion spending resolution.
Both measures will be considered separately but have been combined in a resolution that sets the rule that will govern debate on both.
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Only Democrats are expected to vote for the combined rule, thanks to universal GOP opposition to the $3.5 trillion spending package.
But Democrats control a very slim majority. They can afford to lose the support of three party lawmakers if every Republican and Democrat votes.
A group of nine centrist Democrats is already balking at the plan to postpone consideration of the infrastructure bill until later this year, after the Senate has passed the $3.5 trillion spending legislation.
Moderates want the House to vote on the infrastructure package first, before considering the second and much larger spending package.
Opposition from the group of centrist Democrats could sink the rule, blocking further consideration of the entire spending agenda touted by Democrats and President Joe Biden.
"We cannot hold a major priority, like the bipartisan infrastructure bill, hostage," Rep. Josh Gottheimer, a New Jersey Democrat, said Monday. "The House should vote on the bill, send it to the president's desk ASAP, and then immediately turn to the budget resolution, which I will support. The creation of 2 million jobs a year is on the line."
Biden helped craft the infrastructure package with a group of Senate Republicans and Democrats, promoting it as a critical bill that would create jobs and boost the economy.
The infrastructure measure would make historic federal investments in roads, bridges, and waterways and would also expand broadband access.
But liberal Democrats, who make up most of the House and Senate caucuses, say they won't pass it until they get Senate centrists to approve the $3.5 trillion package.
The legislation would provide funding for a broad array of social welfare programs, including free universal preschool and community college, expanded Medicare services, and more. The bill would also provide a pathway to citizenship for millions of farm workers in the country illegally.
Liberal Democrats want centrists to vote for the massive social spending bill before they put up the votes for the bipartisan infrastructure package.
The $3.5 trillion measure also extends the child tax credit and introduces paid family leave.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in a letter to Democrats Monday, said it would be "essential" to "keep the historic leverage for the children" by passing the budget bill first.
"The success of each bill," Pelosi told Democrats, "contributes to the success of the other."
Democrats will have to negotiate with each other for the next several months in order to pass the entire package.
If the House passes the rule Monday, it is expected to pass the budget resolution as early as Tuesday. The resolution sets the framework for the larger spending bill, leaving it up to the committees to hammer out the details in spending legislation.
Two centrist Senate Democrats have already stated the $3.5 trillion package is too expensive, and without their support, the legislation cannot pass the evenly divided Senate.
No Republican will support the $3.5 trillion plan, and Senate Democrats plan to use a budgetary tactic to pass the bill with only 51 votes instead of the usual 60. Vice President Kamala Harris can cast a tiebreaking vote in the Senate, but only if every Democrat agrees to support the bill.
Sen. Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat who balked at the high price tag of the $3.5 trillion measure, urged House Democrats Monday to pass the infrastructure bill, which has bipartisan support, first.
The Senate approved the bill earlier this month, and a House endorsement would clear the measure for Biden's signature.
"It would send a terrible message to the American people if this bipartisan bill is held hostage," Manchin said.
House Democrats will begin considering the rule for both bills Monday night, following a closed-door caucus meeting that party leaders hope will push reluctant centrists to advance the rules package.
Rep. Peter DeFazio, an Oregon Democrat who chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, urged all Democrats to vote for the rule, saying he aimed to bring up the infrastructure package by the end of September.
In a veiled warning to moderates, DeFazio said the House must pass the $3.5 trillion budget resolution this week in order to kick off the process that would lead to passage of the infrastructure bill.
"Any delay on the budget resolution puts enactment of our shared priorities at risk," DeFazio warned.
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Tags: News, Congress, Budget, Infrastructure, Nancy Pelosi, Joe Manchin
Original Author: Susan Ferrechio
Original Location: Democrats' spending agenda on the line in Monday vote