House Progressives Scale Back Demands To A Simple Ask: A Commitment From Biden That He’ll Get 50 Votes

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 28: Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) speaks to reporters as she leaves a meeting with Progressive House Democrats at the U.S. Capitol October 28, 2021 in Washington, DC. President Biden met with H... WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 28: Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) speaks to reporters as she leaves a meeting with Progressive House Democrats at the U.S. Capitol October 28, 2021 in Washington, DC. President Biden met 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 2:32 p.m.

After the Congressional Progressive Caucus meeting today, chairwoman Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) told reporters that the group is scaling back its demands. To get their votes on the bipartisan infrastructure bill, she said, they need to see the legislative text of the reconciliation bill and to get a promise from President Joe Biden that he has all 50 Senate votes to pass it. 

Previously, Jayapal had been insisting on back-to-back votes — the better to ensure that Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) don’t see the bipartisan bill out the door then leave reconciliation to fail. 

When asked by TPM whether she’d need explicit public statements from Manchin and Sinema saying they’d vote for reconciliation, Jayapal said she’d “like” it, but would accept Biden’s word if he said he had their commitment. It’s a sign of the current high levels of trust in the President among the caucus. 

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Jayapal, and a host of other progressives, were eager to share their support of the reconciliation framework released by the White House Thursday morning. It contained disappointments for the group — especially Manchin’s killing of federal paid leave — but they applauded the President for getting the negotiation to this point and pointed out that many of their priorities made it into the “transformational” bill. 

“It is not everything we would do if we had much bigger majorities, and we are not giving up the fight for anything,” Jayapal said.

The logistics of how to move these two bills forward at this point boils down to trust. House progressives trust the President, and trust 48 of the senators. But they don’t trust that Manchin and Sinema will be there on reconciliation if they give away their leverage on the bipartisan bill early. 

The House Rules Committee released the text of the bill at breakneck speed Thursday afternoon. Now all eyes are on the two senators. Sinema put out a vaguely supportive statement on the framework, and Manchin told reporters he’d need to see the text; both stopped short of committing to vote for the final bill. 

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