Democrats’ standoff continues over budget, infrastructure

Compromise proposal by Pelosi isn't enough to sway moderates

Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., speaks during a news conference on Dec. 1, 2020. Gottheimer is one of nine moderate House Democrats in a standoff with Speaker Nancy Pelosi over voting on a budget resolution before the chamber first passes a bipartisan infrastructure bill. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., speaks during a news conference on Dec. 1, 2020. Gottheimer is one of nine moderate House Democrats in a standoff with Speaker Nancy Pelosi over voting on a budget resolution before the chamber first passes a bipartisan infrastructure bill. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted August 16, 2021 at 10:32am

The standoff between moderate House Democrats and Speaker Nancy Pelosi over voting on a budget resolution before an infrastructure bill remains in a stalemate following a series of weekend developments.

The group of nine members released a letter late Sunday rejecting a compromise proposal from Pelosi, though they didn’t explicitly reiterate that they would vote against the budget resolution.

[Pelosi offers to ‘advance’ budget and infrastructure measures together]

The country “simply cannot afford any delays” in enacting the $550 billion bill the Senate approved last week, they wrote.

“While we appreciate the forward procedural movement on the bipartisan infrastructure agreement, our view remains consistent: We should vote first on the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework without delay and then move to immediate consideration of the budget resolution,” they wrote.

The group includes Georgia’s Carolyn Bourdeaux, Hawaii’s Ed Case, California’s Jim Costa, Maine’s Jared Golden, New Jersey’s Josh Gottheimer, Oregon’s Kurt Schrader and Texans Henry CuellarVicente Gonzalez and Filemon Vela.

Their decision to remain opposed to the budget resolution in exchange for a vote on the infrastructure bill leaves the caucus in an ongoing bind that began Friday when the group released a letter saying they “will not consider voting for a budget resolution until the bipartisan infrastructure” bill is signed into law.

Pelosi has said for months that she will not bring the infrastructure bill to the House floor until the Senate advances the multitrillion-dollar reconciliation package that Democrats plan to use to approve an expansion of Medicare, two free years of community college and dozens of other legislative priorities.

Congress cannot advance that reconciliation bill until both chambers adopt the fiscal 2022 budget resolution the Senate approved last week by a party-line vote of 50-49.

Pelosi responded to the moderates’ Friday letter with one of her own earlier Sunday, saying she’d “requested that the Rules Committee explore the possibility of a rule that advances both the budget resolution and the bipartisan infrastructure package.” 

That didn’t change her previous strategy of holding on to the infrastructure bill until the Senate clears the reconciliation package, but it would provide a procedural vote on the rule setting up debate on the infrastructure bill.

If the moderate Democrats do get their wish and House Democratic leaders put the bipartisan infrastructure bill on the floor next week during a break in the August recess to vote on the budget, it may not have the votes to pass.

The Congressional Progressive Caucus said earlier this month that a majority of its 96 members would vote against the bipartisan infrastructure bill if it's brought to the floor before the Senate approves a “robust” reconciliation package.