House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on Saturday set a new deadline for the chamber to pass the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, following moderates’ unsuccessful efforts to push for its passage last week amid ongoing negotiations on Democrats’ sweeping reconciliation package.
In a “Dear Colleague” letter issued Saturday, Pelosi said “more time was needed” to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill together with the reconciliation package.
The House speaker urged passage of the bipartisan bill by Oct. 31 — the expiration date of the 30-day reauthorization of federal highway programs. The House passed the extension on Friday night.
“There is an October 31st Surface Transportation Authorization deadline, after last night’s passage of a critical 30-day extension,” Pelosi wrote. “We must pass BIF well before then – the sooner the better, to get the jobs out there.”
Pelosi noted “two dynamics” that led to a clash between moderates and progressives in the past week while making clear the need for both infrastructure bills to pass.
“Out of respect for our colleagues who support the bills and out of recognition for the need for both, I would not bring BIF to the Floor to fail,” Pelosi said. “Again, we will and must pass both bills soon. We have the responsibility and the opportunity to do so. People are waiting and want Results.”
Pelosi’s letter was issued a day after President Biden reiterated his commitment to a two-track plan for the passage of both infrastructure bills in a meeting with House Democrats. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told reporters on Friday afternoon that the President endorsed keeping the bipartisan infrastructure plan and reconciliation package linked.
“Look, he said ‘I support the BIF entirely and if I could do it right now I would, but we need to get this reconciliation bill and you know it’s gonna be tough, like we’re gonna have to come down in our number and we’re gonna have to do that work,’” Jayapal said.
“The President said we’re gonna get both bills done and in order to get BIF done, we have to get this agreement on the reconciliation bill,” Jayapal added.
Biden’s reported remarks to House Democrats signaled his support for progressives’ refusal to back down from their vow to tank the bipartisan infrastructure bill if it’s put to a vote before the reconciliation package.
“We cannot let this small faction on the far left … destroy the president’s agenda and stop the creation of 2 million jobs a year,” Gottheimer said in a statement.
Sinema similarly painted the vote delay as “an ineffective stunt to gain leverage over a separate proposal.” Both Sinema and fellow centrist Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) faced backlash from progressives in the past week for their evasiveness on giving a topline nor details of what they’d like to see in the reconciliation package amid their complaints over its $3.5 trillion price tag. Manchin, however, finally announced a topline counteroffer of $1.5 trillion, on Thursday.
On Saturday, Biden acknowledged frustrations among Democrats over the delayed vote.
“Everybody’s frustrated, it’s part of being in government, being frustrated,” Biden told reporters on Saturday, while vowing to ”work like hell” to pass both infrastructure bills.