Pelosi holds her ground as centrists push for Dem leaders to prioritize infrastructure over social spending

After Democrats in the U.S. Senate voted last week to move forward on a budget resolution designed to fund a number of social reforms and environmental projects, a handful of House Dems wrote a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) declaring that they’d vote against the measure unless the lower chamber also tees up a vote on a trillion-dollar infrastructure proposal.

But according to a new report from the Washington Examiner, Pelosi has made her decision on the matter — and she’s putting infrastructure on the back burner.

“We have to be cautious”

The Associated Press first reported Friday on the letter, which was signed by Democrat Reps. Josh Gottheimer (NJ), Carolyn Bourdeaux (GA), Filemon Vela (TX), Jared Golden (ME), Vicente Gonzalez (TX), Ed Case (HI), Jim Costa (CA), and Henry Cuellar, a Texas congressman who has made headlines in recent months for his criticism of the Biden administration’s handling of surging migration at the U.S.–Mexico border.

In their message, the nine Democrats said plainly that they “will not consider voting for a budget resolution until the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passes the House and is signed into law.”

According to CNBC, the budget deal would accomplish a number of Democratic priorities, like reforming Medicare, improving access to child care and family leave for working Americans, and taking steps to discourage pollution amid concerns over climate change. But centrists in the party seem to feel that infrastructure improvements are more pressing.

“We simply can’t afford months of unnecessary delays and risk squandering this once-in-a-century, bipartisan infrastructure package,” the group of Dems wrote in their letter, according to the AP. “It’s time to get shovels in the ground and people to work.”

Speaking in a recent interview, Rep. Gottheimer also expressed concerns over “the size and scope of the [reconciliation] package,” which would cost a hefty $3.5 trillion. “I think we have to be cautious about that,” Gottheimer, whose signature appears first on the letter, told MSNBC, according to the Examiner.

Progressives vs. centrists

Others in the Democratic Party feel differently, however. According to The New York Times, over half the members “of the nearly 100-strong Congressional Progressive Caucus” have said “they will not vote for the infrastructure bill until they have a social policy measure funding their priorities: climate change, education, health care, family leave, child care and elder care.”

To Pelosi, it’s a clear indication that centrists like Cuellar and Gottheimer are outnumbered.

“The votes in the House and Senate depend on us having both bills,” she told fellow Dems in a recent conference call, according to the Examiner.

With that, it seems the longtime House speaker isn’t budging. But will the move come back to bite her? If these nine centrists hold their ground, it very well might.

As The New York Times notes, “[t]he nine House members are more than enough to block consideration of the budget blueprint in a House where Democrats hold a three-seat majority.” Let the infighting begin.

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