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Democrats Need More Time for Infrastructure Deal, Pelosi Says

President Joe Biden talks with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as they depart after the president met with Democratic lawmakers to promote his infrastructure bill on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C, October 1, 2021. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

House speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) said Democrats need more time to pass a $1 trillion infrastructure bill and potential $3.5 trillion resolution to be passed via budget reconciliation, in a Dear Colleague letter released on Friday evening.

“While great progress has been made in the negotiations to develop a House, Senate and White House agreement on the Build Back Better Act, more time is needed to complete the task,” Pelosi wrote. “Our Chairs are still working for clarity and consensus.  Clearly, the Bipartisan Infrastructure bill will pass once we have agreement on the reconciliation bill.”

Pelosi released the letter hours after President Biden visited Capitol Hill to speak with the House Democratic Caucus regarding passage of the legislation. Biden tried to tamp down expectations for passing the legislation, saying the reconciliation package could be cut to $1.9 trillion to $2.3 trillion, according to Politico.

“We’re going to get this done,” Biden told reporters after the meeting. “It doesn’t matter when. It doesn’t matter whether it’s in six minutes, six days, or six weeks. We’re going to get it done.”

 

A Thursday vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill was delayed due to opposition from progressive Democrats, who are demanding that the Senate vote on the reconciliation bill before the House passes the bipartisan infrastructure bill. Progressives hope to fund programs such as free universal pre-K and community college through the reconciliation package.

On Friday evening as well, House Progressive Caucus chairwoman Pramila Jayapal (D., Wash.) predicted that the House would not vote on the bipartisan bill.

“The bipartisan bill is not happening tonight,” Jayapal told reporters. “I think the president was very clear about that.”

However, Senators Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D., Ariz.) have publicly refused to back the $3.5 trillion price tag, with Manchin aiming for $1.5 trillion. Sinema flew back to her home state from Washington, D.C., on Friday for a medical appointment as well as for a fundraiser, the New York Times reported.

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.

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