Congressional Progressive Caucus chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) on Monday said that progressives plan to vote for both the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the reconciliation package even without Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-WV) commitment to support the latter.
Last week, Jayapal repeatedly stated progressives’ demand for reassurance from President Biden that all 50 senators will vote for the Build Back Better plan in order for the caucus to support the bipartisan infrastructure bill.
But during her appearance on CNN on Monday, Jayapal signaled that progressives are ready to vote for both bills once the last few sticking points — such as immigration, childcare and prescription drug pricing — are worked out, regardless of whether Manchin comes around to supporting the reconciliation package. The chances of that are still unclear after the West Virginia senator’s cryptic remarks this afternoon, promising clarity on his position while offering anything but that.
“Those are the last pieces, and once we have those, we will be happy to vote both those bills — both the infrastructure bill and the Build Back Better bill — through the House, and I’m hoping that can happen as soon as tomorrow or the next day,” Jayapal said. “We are ready to get this transformational change to people.”
Pressed on Manchin’s remarks during a press conference earlier in the day that reaffirmed that he has not committed to supporting Democrats’ sweeping reconciliation package, Jayapal reiterated that she and other progressives trust that the President will get all 51 votes needed to pass the “human infrastructure” legislation.
“We’re tired of just continuing to wait for one or two people,” Jayapal said. “We trust the President that he will get 51 votes for this, and we will pass both bills through the House as soon as we have these final negotiations wrapped up.”
Jayapal isn’t the only Democrat who offered reassurance that both infrastructure bills will pass, following Manchin’s vague press conference where he demanded that the reconciliation package’s real price tag be made clear — a.k.a. that the Congressional Budget Office release a score on the bill — before he’d support it. Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) poured cold water on those concerns minutes later, tweeting that the impending CBO score would, of course, have to be released before the Senate parliamentarian could consider the bill, as is standard procedure.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) issued a statement rebutting Manchin’s deficit-hawky remarks as well, saying that the reconciliation package is fully paid for and won’t increase inflation, citing 17 Nobel Prize-winning economists’ and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s support for the legislation.
“And as Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said just days ago, Build Back Better ‘will boost the economy’s potential to grow, the economy’s supply potential, which tends to push inflation down, not up … what this package will do is lower some of the most important costs, what [families] pay for health care, for child care,” Pelosi said. “It’s anti-inflationary in that sense as well.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki similarly dismissed Manchin’s inflation-related concerns in a statement, too.
“Senator Manchin says he is prepared to support a Build Back Better plan that combats inflation, is fiscally responsible, and will create jobs. The plan the House is finalizing meets those tests — it is fully paid for, will reduce the deficit, and brings down costs for health care, child care, elder care, and housing,” Psaki said. “Experts agree: Seventeen Nobel Prize-winning economists have said it will reduce inflation. As a result, we remain confident that the plan will gain Senator Manchin’s support.”
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) also signaled that progress towards the passage of both infrastructure bills is still on track, telling reporters on Monday that Democrats plan to meet with the parliamentarian tomorrow to present a “plan C” on immigration provisions in the reconciliation package, marking Democrats’ third attempt at having it included in the legislation.
Additionally, Senate Budget chair Bernie Sanders (I-VT) appeared to take a swipe at Manchin by contrasting the reconciliation package with the bipartisan infrastructure bill.
“According to the CBO, the (bipartisan) infrastructure bill runs up a $250 billion deficit over a 10 year period. It’s not paid for … the (reconciliation package) is paid for in its entirety,” Sanders told reporters.
“So, if we’re talking about fiscal responsibility, I think what we’re trying to do with the reconciliation bill is the right path forward,” Sanders continued.
Watch Jayapal’s remarks below: