The House delayed a vote on the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill on Thursday, as progressive Democrats refused to support the bill until Congress acts on a reconciliation package projected to cost $3.5 trillion.
An intraparty battle delayed the bipartisan infrastructure effort as progressives held out on supporting the bill in an effort to create leverage for passing the larger package, which includes climate-change initiatives, expansions of health care, public education, paid leave and child-care programs, as well as an array of tax increases. Moderate Senators Kyrsten Sinema (D., Ariz.) and Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) have refused to support the cost of the reconciliation package, with Manchin suggesting a $1.5 trillion price tag.
“I don’t see a deal tonight,” Manchin told reporters following negotiations with White House officials on Thursday night.
Earlier on Thursday, Progressive Caucus chairwoman Pramila Jayapal (D., Wash.) said Democrats did not have the votes to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill.
“I do not think the infrastructure bill is going to come to a vote tonight,” Jayapal told CNN. “Right now, there are not the votes.”
On Tuesday, Senator Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) joined Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) and other members of the progressive “Squad” in urging Democrats to vote against the infrastructure bill unless Congress first passed the reconciliation bill.
The progressive holdout comes as Sinema and Manchin have refused to settle on a topline figure in negotiations for the social-policy package. White House officials’ efforts to get a public commitment from Manchin and Sinema to vote for the $3.5 trillion plan have proven unsuccessful — imperiling much of President Biden’s agenda.
Democrats need all 50 senators in their caucus to support the $3.5 trillion package, which they plan to pass through reconciliation. Reconciliation requires just a simple majority to pass legislation, rather than the 60-vote threshold typically needed.
Manchin reiterated his opposition to the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill on Wednesday, further intensifying the fight between progressives and moderates ahead of Thursday’s infrastructure vote.
He called the larger bill the “definition of fiscal insanity” and said he didn’t believe he would reach an agreement with the White House soon.
The West Virginia senator reiterated his concerns about the massive spending package causing inflation and called for the bill’s measures to be means-tested.
“While I am hopeful that common ground can be found that would result in another historic investment in our nation, I cannot — and will not — support trillions in spending or an all-or-nothing approach that ignores the brutal fiscal reality our nation faces,” Manchin said.
Meanwhile, Representative Stephanie Murphy (D., Fla.), a co-chair of the centrist Blue Dog Coalition, warned on Wednesday that if the infrastructure vote failed, “there would be a significant breach in trust that would slow the momentum in moving forward in delivering the Biden agenda.”