Pelosi struggles to save infrastructure deal

Pelosi struggles to save infrastructure deal
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

As we previously discussed, Speaker Nancy Pelosi is currently fighting two separate insurrections in her own ranks when it comes to both the one trillion dollar infrastructure package that already passed in the Senate and the $3.5 trillion “reconciliation” bill that the Democrats are trying to jam through. She has one group of socialists from the House Progressive Caucus (including “the squad”) who say they won’t vote on the infrastructure bill unless the massive spending package is passed at the same time. But she’s also dealing with a group of nearly a dozen centrist Democrats who are saying the opposite. They won’t consider the reconciliation scheme until the infrastructure bill makes it to Joe Biden’s desk. Pelosi only has a margin of three votes keeping Democrats in the majority at the moment, so she can’t afford to lose either group without some GOP support.

The new plan announced last night is reportedly intended to serve as a compromise so she doesn’t see both bills go up in flames. How this proposal is supposed to accomplish that feat is something of a mystery, however, because it doesn’t really sound all that different from her previous plan. (Associated Press)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is proposing a procedural vote this month that would set up future passage of two economic measures crucial to President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda, a move Democratic leaders hope will win votes from unhappy party moderates.

In a letter Sunday to Democratic lawmakers, Pelosi, D-Calif., suggested that the House will take a single vote that would clear an initial hurdle for both a budget resolution and a separate infrastructure bill. The budget blueprint would open the gate for Congress to later consider a separate, $3.5 trillion, 10-year bill for social and environment programs.

Nine centrist Democrats said Friday they would vote against the budget resolution until the House first approves the bipartisan, $1 trillion package of road, railway and other infrastructure projects.

If I’m understanding this correctly, the revised plan would combine the procedural motions for both bills into a single vote, allowing each to move forward. That would allow the House to immediately open debate on the infrastructure bill (which actually has some GOP support) and presumably receive a vote, sending it to Biden’s desk if it passes. The reconciliation scheme wouldn’t be able to go anywhere, however, because there hasn’t been a version passed in the Senate yet, assuming it ever will be.

I suppose that sounds okay in theory, but does it really do anything to address the concerns of the two opposing groups of Democrats? If the reconciliation bill is taking a step forward, Pelosi almost certainly loses all GOP support for the infrastructure bill, though she’d probably gain back the centrists from her party who want the infrastructure bill passed first. But that one step doesn’t satisfy the demands of the progressive caucus. And if she loses the GOP support for the infrastructure bill, the progressives have far more votes than they would need to still derail it.

I’m just not seeing how this proposal breaks the logjam. The Speaker could still get the infrastructure bill out the door in short order (possibly) if she’s willing to thumb her nose at the progressive caucus. Of course, that assumes that she brings along enough Republicans to override any defectors. But that doesn’t do anything to move the needle on the $3.5 trillion spending bonanza. Pelosi has been in the swamp for a very long time, so perhaps she’s worked out something that I’m just not seeing. But it will be a surprising development if that’s the case.

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