Pelosi Slaps Down Moderate Threats On Infrastructure Bills As ‘Amateur Hour’

WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 06: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks at her weekly news conference at the Capitol building on August 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
August 17, 2021 10:43 a.m.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) remained unmoved after moderates in her caucus threatened to withhold their votes on the reconciliation budget resolution unless she brings the bipartisan infrastructure bill to the floor first. 

“This is no time for amateur hour,” she said on a Monday leadership call, per a source familiar with the conversation. “Biden’s agenda needs to show the results that we know it can produce.”

She added that there is no way for the bills to pass unless they proceed in the order that she, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and President Biden laid out months ago.

“For the first time, America’s children have leverage,” she said on the call. “I will not surrender that leverage.”

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Politico first reported the remarks.

A group of House moderates wrote a letter to Pelosi Friday, saying that families’ livelihoods couldn’t wait for “months” of delays.

“We will not consider voting for a budget resolution until the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passes the House and is signed into law,” nine House Democrats wrote. Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), who has a predilection for bucking party leadership in threats if not in execution, seems to be leading the charge.  

The Congressional Progressive Caucus has previously warned that a majority of its members will vote down the bipartisan bill if it’s brought to the House floor before the Senate approves a reconciliation package. 

Democratic leadership in both chambers has held firm on the two-track legislative plan for weeks, insisting on the strategy even when Senate Republicans made noises that they’d abandon the bipartisan plan because of it. Democratic leaders see it as the only way to ensure that the moderate wing will support the reconciliation package, and progressives the bipartisan plan.

Up until this point, most of the activity has been in the Senate. The chamber departed last week after passing the bipartisan bill and budget resolution in quick succession. 

Next week, when the House returns from a curtailed recess, it’ll become the locus of the voting action. Pelosi said in a dear colleague letter over the weekend that she intends to move on the budget resolution at once. 

“Our goal is to pass the budget resolution the week of August 23rd so that we may pass Democrats’ Build Back Better agenda via reconciliation as soon as possible,” she wrote. “To that end, I have requested that the Rules Committee explore the possibility of a rule that advances both the budget resolution and the bipartisan infrastructure package.”

If Pelosi intends to wait until the Senate passes the entire $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package, as she has said, she will have to sit on the bipartisan bill for weeks if not months while the upper chamber hammers out the details. 

Pelosi is working with slim margins. She can only afford to lose three Democrats on a party-line vote. 

The speaker is also teeing up another big vote when the lower chamber returns on the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. With the clock on redistricting started, Democratic leadership has expressed increasing urgency to take a second shot at passing voting rights legislation. Without it, Democrats may be in for a grim midterm experience — with partisan gerrymandering alone putting Pelosi’s gavel at risk. 

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