House Progressives Appear Unconvinced Immediately After Biden Reconciliation Pitch

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 28: Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) talks with reporters as she leaves a meeting with President Joe Biden and House Democrats at the U.S. Capitol October 28, 2021 in Washington, DC. President Bi... WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 28: Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) talks with reporters as she leaves a meeting with President Joe Biden and House Democrats at the U.S. Capitol October 28, 2021 in Washington, DC. President Biden will meet with House Democrats on Thursday morning to try and secure a vote on the Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure bill and discuss his multi-trillion social policy spending bill. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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October 28, 2021 11:56 a.m.

There was little consensus as House progressives streamed out of a meeting with President Joe Biden about the reconciliation framework released by the White House Thursday morning.

Now progressives, currently huddled in a caucus meeting, have to decide whether the framework is good enough for them to vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill days in advance of a vote on the still unfleshed-out reconciliation bill. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) pushed for a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill today during the meeting, multiple members said as they exited the room. Biden, they added, did not. 

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), head of the congressional progressive caucus, called such a vote a “leap of faith” in the President. She has long been pushing for back-to-back votes on the two pieces of legislation.

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“There are many things in here that are our priorities,” she told reporters as she left the Biden meeting. “There are a few things that are not in here: Paid leave was not put on the table. And Medicare expansion was slimmed down, and he specifically made a point of saying he doesn’t know if he has a commitment for that.” 

A determining factor for the progressives is whether Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) commit to voting for the reconciliation bill that the framework becomes. Congressional leadership and the White House have long pulled for the two bills to be connected, to make sure that both the moderate and progressive wings provide the votes for the bills they like less.

Jayapal said that Biden was “confident he could get the votes” in the Senate, but that it wasn’t clear if Manchin and Sinema had fully bought in. In statements to reporters Thursday morning, both senators praised the “good faith” negotiations without promising outright to vote for the package. 

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), a member of the progressive caucus, told TPM on his way into the progressive caucus meeting that the group would need to determine what level of commitment it needs to see in order to trust the two senators enough to vote on the bipartisan bill. That, he said, is “the question everyone’s talking about.” 

Some House members may be harder to sway than others. 

When asked whether she was prepared to vote yes on the bipartisan bill after the meeting with Biden, Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO) was blunt: “No,” she said. 

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