Moderates 1(.2 trillion), Pelosi 0?

AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

YMMV, but it suuuuure sounds as though Nancy Pelosi finally caved to the moderates in her caucus that thought 1.2 trillion loaves were better than none. And it also appears that moderate Democrats learned a lesson from Bart Stupak’s flop eleven years ago, when he trusted Barack Obama and Pelosi that the Hyde Amendment would remain in force forever-ish.

Not that Pelosi’s leadership didn’t try to pull the wool over their eyes and avoid a commitment to vote on the bipartisan Senate infrastructure bill:

Democratic leaders earlier Tuesday proposed to “deem,” or consider adopted, a resolution committing the chamber to vote on the Senate-passed infrastructure bill by Sept. 27 as part of a separate rule that would also deem the underlying budget blueprint with reconciliation instructions.

But moderates negotiated another change that scrapped the plan for adopting that nonbinding resolution and instead secured language directly in the rule itself scheduling a vote on the infrastructure bill for no later than Sept. 27.

The earlier resolution, offered by Massachusetts Rep. Katherine M. Clark — the fourth-ranking Democrat and assistant speaker — and Transportation and Infrastructure Chair Peter A. DeFazio, D-Ore., didn’t specifically make it in order for any member to call up the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which passed the Senate earlier this month on a 69-30 vote.

That attempt didn’t last long, nor did it fool moderate caucus leader, Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ). After Clark’s resolution hit the floor, Gottheimer met with Pelosi and Rules Committee chair Jim McGovern (D-MA). Lo and behold, the pair discovered a “mix up”:

A Democratic leadership aide said there was a “mix up” on the earlier date certain language, and that a new version would affirm that the House “shall consider” the infrastructure bill on Sept. 27 if the chamber hasn’t acted on it by then. That provision would be included in a new rule for floor debate on the infrastructure bill and the voting rights measure; the latter is expected to get a vote later Tuesday.

Texas Democrat Henry Cuellar, one of the ten holdouts, think they’ve won and now can get on the same page as the rest of the holdouts:

Two other members of the group of 10, Henry Cuellar of Texas and Jim Costa of California, said they were confident the changes Rules would make will gain the votes of enough of the holdouts to adopt the budget later on Tuesday. “I think we’ll be fine,” Cuellar said. “We wanted a date certain and we got a date certain.”

If the Sept. 27 target date holds, it would mean a vote on the infrastructure bill days before current surface transportation program authorizations are set to expire, as well as government-wide agency funding, on Oct. 1.

Well, let’s not pop the bubbly just yet, even if one is inclined to celebrate another $1.2 trillion of largely unfunded spending. (The supposed pay-fors in this bill are simply transfers from unfunded COVID-19 relief appropriations, a trade of air for air.) A rule requiring a vote at some point in the future is not the same as actually taking the vote. Pelosi has insisted that she won’t allow the bipartisan bill to pass on the House floor, which it almost certainly would if it came up for a vote, without passing the $3.5 trillion reconciliation spending first or at the same time.

How difficult would it be for Pelosi and McGovern to add a codicil to a later rules envelope that negates this rule? How many people would catch it if McGovern and Pelosi tried it? I’m guessing that we’ll find out some time between the estimated 9/20 vote on the budget resolution and the supposed drop-dead 9/27 deadline for a vote on the bipartisan bill.

In fact, if Pelosi doesn’t try something like this to evade that vote, I’d be stupefied. Or perhaps better put, Stupakfied. Gottheimer, Cuellar et al better keep a very close eye on McGovern for the next five weeks.