Pelosi Vows to Pass $1T Bill 09/27 06:09
With President Joe Biden's broad domestic agenda at risk of collapse, House
Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday vowed that Democrats will pass a bipartisan
infrastructure bill this week and push ahead on the bigger $3.5 trillion social
safety net and climate change bill while acknowledging the total amount will
WASHINGTON (AP) -- With President Joe Biden's broad domestic agenda at risk
of collapse, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday vowed that Democrats will
pass a bipartisan infrastructure bill this week and push ahead on the bigger
$3.5 trillion social safety net and climate change bill while acknowledging the
total amount will drop.
Biden spoke with lawmakers over the weekend on the path forward, according
to a White House official who requested anonymity to discuss the private
conversations. Extensive work was being done behind the scenes to shore up
When asked Sunday if Pelosi had the votes to pass the $1 trillion
infrastructure bill, Biden told reporters at the White House, "It's going to
take the better part of this week."
Pelosi had originally pledged to House moderates a vote on the
infrastructure legislation by Monday, but she said Sunday in a letter to
colleagues that vote will now be Thursday. With Democratic divisions, the extra
time allowed space for negotiations on the broader bill, so both bills could
advance. The $1 trillion infrastructure plan passed the Senate last month.
"Let me just say that we're going to pass the bill this week," Pelosi,
D-Calif., said earlier Sunday on ABC's "This Week." She added: "I'm never
bringing a bill to the floor that doesn't have the votes. You cannot choose the
date. You have to go when you have the votes in a reasonable time, and we will."
Still, in a delicate balancing act aimed at achieving the near Democratic
unanimity needed to push the sprawling package through, Pelosi made clear that
Biden's proposed $3.5 trillion for social spending and climate initiatives will
need to be trimmed.
Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona have said
they won't support a bill of that size. Manchin has previously proposed
spending of $1 trillion to $1.5 trillion, an amount that progressives have
called unacceptable for a bill they originally envisioned at $6 trillion.
Asked on ABC if she agrees the final number on the so-called reconciliation
bill will be "somewhat smaller" than $3.5 trillion, Pelosi responded: "That
"We'll see how the number comes down and what we need," she added. "Again,
the Senate and the House, those who are not in full agreement with the
president, right, let's see what our values -- let's not talk about numbers and
dollars. Let's talk about values."
"I think even those who want a smaller number, support the vision of the
president, and this is really transformative."
Her comments reflected the enormous stakes for the coming week, one that
could define the Biden presidency and shape the political contours of next
year's midterm elections.
Along with personal phone calls from the president, several Cabinet
officials, senior staff and others were reaching out to lawmakers over the
weekend, the White House official said.
Democrats have few votes to spare in the House and no votes to spare in the
50-50 Senate if there is no Republican support to enact Biden's massive "Build
Back Better" agenda. Republicans are lockstep against the larger measure.
Biden, Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., have led a
behind-the-scenes hunt for compromises to resolve internal divisions and, they
hope, allow approval of the mammoth bill soon.
The House Budget Committee on Saturday advanced a $3.5 trillion, 10-year
bill strengthening social safety net and climate programs, though one Democrat
voted "no," illustrating the challenges party leaders face. The bill, which is
certain to be revised before House voting, would be paid for with taxes on
corporations and the wealthy.
Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., who led a group of House moderates in pushing
a quick vote by Monday on the infrastructure bill, said Sunday he wouldn't be
bothered by a slight delay. He was optimistic both pieces of legislation could
be resolved this week.
"If the vote -- the way these things work, if you start debating it and it
rolls over to Tuesday, ... I think we're all reasonable people," Gottheimer
said. "There's too much on the line here for our country."
In setting Thursday's vote, Pelosi noted it's also the deadline for related
transportation programs, many of which are in the infrastructure bill.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., who heads the Congressional Progressive
Caucus, said members of her group won't be willing to support the
infrastructure plan until there is "ironclad" agreement in the House and Senate
on the reconciliation bill. She didn't rule out additional cuts to the $3.5
trillion proposal to reach agreement.
"If somebody wants to take something out, we need to hear what that is," she
Pelosi didn't commit when asked on ABC about a vote this week on the social
spending and climate bill, which Democrats intend to pass with a simple
majority without GOP support. She suggested that House-Senate agreement could
be reached this week, depending on rulings from the Senate parliamentarian on
what provisions could be included.
"We are ready on our side," Pelosi said. "We just have to see how quickly
the parliamentarian can operate."
The overall bill embodies the crux of Biden's top domestic goals, with
billions for rebuilding infrastructure, tackling climate change and expanding
or introducing a range of services, from free prekindergarten to dental, vision
and hearing aid care for seniors.
But there are broad disputes on paying for the legislation as well as over
which initiatives should be reshaped, among them expanded Medicare, tax breaks
for children and health care, a push toward cleaner energy and higher levies on
the rich and corporations.
Republicans say the proposal is unneeded, unaffordable amid accumulated
federal debt exceeding $28 trillion and reflects Democrats' drive to insert
government into people's lives. Its tax boosts will cost jobs and include
credits for buying electric vehicles, purchases often made by people with
comfortable incomes, they said.
Gottheimer spoke to CNN's "State of the Union," and Jayapal appeared on CBS'
"Face the Nation."