Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), who chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said that she does not expect a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill to happen on Monday — the date when rebelling House moderates pushed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to bring the bipartisan bill to the floor — as moderates and progressives struggle to agree on the price tag of Democrats’ sweeping $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill.
House progressives, such as Jayapal, have warned that they would kill the bipartisan bill if the Senate hasn’t passed a robust reconciliation package by then. Although the House Budget Committee voted to advance the spending bill on Saturday, the reconciliation package has yet to be finalized as moderate Democrats put up fights over its $3.5 trillion cost.
During an interview on CNN on Sunday, Jayapal expressed doubt over the so-called Monday “deadline” that Pelosi promised for the bipartisan infrastructure bill, reaffirming progressives’ commitment to voting against the legislation unless it is linked with the larger reconciliation package.
“I don’t believe there will be a vote,” Jayapal said. “The Speaker is an incredibly good vote counter, and she knows exactly where her caucus stands, and we’ve been really clear on that.”
After reiterating that “the votes aren’t there,” Jayapal stressed that the “urgency” to pass the reconciliation package is important, noting that most of the Democratic caucus supports President Biden’s “Build Back Better” agenda.
“We want to have it happen as soon as possible,” Jayapal said. “We need the Senate to engage with us if that’s going to happen.”
Jayapal’s latest remarks come as no surprise. Last week, Jayapal made it clear that after meeting with the President, progressives have no interest in giving up their leverage in the face of their moderates’ effort to push the bipartisan infrastructure deal without reconciliation.
“I reiterated what I have consistently said: progressives will vote for both bills because we proudly support the President’s entire Build Back Better package, but that a majority of our 96-member caucus will only vote for the small infrastructure bill after the Build Back Better Act passes,” Jayapal said in a statement last week.
Pelosi also reportedly had an extended conversation with Jayapal last week. Jayapal told reporters afterwards that she let Pelosi know that half of the 95-person progressive caucus is prepared to vote down the bipartisan bill until reconciliation passes in the Senate.
Eleven Senate Democrats threw their support behind House progressives’ commitment to voting against the bipartisan infrastructure bill until the reconciliation package passes in the Senate last week.
“Now is the time to pass both of these major pieces of legislation. We have no time to waste. We strongly support the Congressional Progressive Caucus and other members in the House who have said they intend to vote for the bipartisan infrastructure bill only once the Build Back Better Act is passed,” the Senate Democrats wrote in a statement. “That is what we agreed to, it’s what the American people want, and it’s the only path forward for this Congress.”
Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Tina Smith (D-MN), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) were among the Democrats who issued the statement last week.
On Sunday, Pelosi told ABC News that it “seems self-evident” that the final price tag for the Democrats’ reconciliation bill would be smaller than $3.5 trillion originally proposed and that a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill “may be” on Monday — but only if she has the votes to pass it.
Watch Jayapal’s remarks below: