Pelosi Attempts to Straddle Democrat Caucus to Keep ‘Infrastructure’ Talks Alive

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) meets with reporters to discuss President Joe Biden's domestic agenda including passing a bipartisan infrastructure bill and pushing through a Democrats-only expansion of the social safety net, the at the Capitol in Washington, Sept. 8, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

The $3.5 trillion radical infrastructure package continues to create infighting between the “moderate” and far-left Democrats, who are trying to sway House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) in different ways, as the White House steps in to save the legislation.

Punchbowl reported that Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), who leads the Problem Solvers Caucus, is trying to push Pelosi into putting up the $1.2 trillion “bipartisan” infrastructure bill for a vote next week after the Senate approved the legislation last month. However, the $3.5 trillion radical reconciliation package could then be derailed because Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) has threatened that at least 48 of her radical friends are willing to block passage, saying there will be no infrastructure bill without reconciliation.

Pelosi is trying to keep her partisan agenda alive and keep her “promise” to Gottheimer to put the $1.2 trillion bill to a vote. The congressman doesn’t seem to be backing down, as he can lose credibility if he does. He, along with other “moderates,” feel that reconciliation is months away from being ready for a vote and are uncertain if it will pass. Punchbowl stated:

Gottheimer doesn’t at all seem like he’s going to back off. If Gottheimer lets Pelosi out of this agreement, he loses some internal credibility. Moderates already doubt the wisdom of the deal he cut, so Gottheimer can’t back off of it now. Gottheimer’s whole shtick was that infrastructure and reconciliation should be separated. They aren’t separated or on different tracks — you’d have to be living on Mars to believe that to be true — but it was a valiant effort.

Gottheimer’s view on wanting a Sept. 27 vote is this: Biden should pocket the victory that’s at hand. And there’s some hard truth to that. The president’s poll numbers are flagging, Covid is resurging and his foreign policy is teetering. Signing a bill that garnered a big bipartisan majority in the Senate could dramatically alter that — and could be what Democrats need in 2022. Especially moderates in tough swing seats. Furthermore, moderates believe reconciliation is months off and uncertain, so why delay this infrastructure bill?

Jayapal — the chair of the far-left Congressional Progressive Caucus that consists of 94 members — can make sure nothing passes by whipping her caucus against the bills. They are ultimately arguing that they will not vote for one without the other. Punchbowl stated:

Jayapal’s CPC is the heart of the House Democratic Caucus. And she comes to the table with a strong hand. Why would progressives ever vote for an infrastructure bill that they don’t love when they have no guarantees about what they’ll get on the social spending side? Even if you assume that Jayapal doesn’t have 40-plus Democrats behind her, it’s not a stretch to believe she has enough to bring the bill down. Why would she back down?

Now in a challenging position as to which side she will ultimately give in to, Pelosi could doom her own party. If nothing is passed, the Democrats will have a hard time in the midterms. However, Gottheimer and Jayapal could tank both bills if neither of them gets their way. Pelosi, in the past, has been known not to put a bill up for a vote unless she knows it will pass.

Pelosi, along with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), is reportedly going to the White House to meet with Biden on the passage along with a slew of House Democrats, including Gottheimer and Jayapal. Punchbowl reported that the White House would try to minimize the risk of not passing the bills since both Democrats are key figures in the House.

Follow Jacob Bliss on Twitter @jacobmbliss.

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