President Joe Biden was proud to announce Thursday that his administration had made a deal with Republicans in the Senate on a new and pricey infrastructure package that’s been months in the making. But it wasn’t long before top Democrats on the Hill started pumping the brakes.
According to the Washington Examiner, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) poured cold water on the newly negotiated deal during her weekly press conference Thursday, telling reporters that “she won’t even consider the narrow infrastructure bill unless [a] reconciliation package first passes the Senate along with it.”
“Let me be really clear on this: we will not take up a bill in the House until the Senate passes the bipartisan bill and a reconciliation bill,” Pelosi said, according to The Hill.
Striking a deal?
As the Examiner noted, negotiations over the package have been ongoing in Washington for weeks, with Biden and Democrats hoping for a more comprehensive package that includes provisions ostensibly meant to stimulate job growth. The GOP, meanwhile, has been vying for a much narrower bill that focuses primarily on physical infrastructure like roads and bridges.
Unable to come to a compromise, Dems are now “banking on a ‘two-step’ approach,” the Examiner reports, “that would pair a narrow infrastructure measure costing roughly $1 trillion with a bill that could cost up to six times as much and would cover what the party describes as ‘human infrastructure.'” They hope to pass the latter bill in the Senate with budget reconciliation, lowering the threshold of support the measure would need in the upper chamber.
As for the former, Biden announced Thursday that a small group of Senate lawmakers had “struck a deal” the night before.
We’ve struck a deal. A group of senators – five Democrats and five Republicans – has come together and forged an infrastructure agreement that will create millions of American jobs.
— President Biden (@POTUS) June 24, 2021
The Hill reports that the “proposal includes about $579 billion in new spending for a total of $974 billion over five years or $1.2 trillion over eight years.”
A dead end
But Pelosi, for her part, has made clear that without the reconciliation measure, the newly inked deal is dead-on-arrival in the House.
“There ain’t going to be no bipartisan bill unless we have the reconciliation bill,” she reiterated Thursday, according to the Examiner.
Still, the speaker remains “hopeful,” she said. “I’m hopeful that we would have a bipartisan bill. I think it would be really important to demonstrate the bipartisanship that has always been a hallmark of our infrastructure legislation,” Pelosi said Thursday, according to The Hill.
At least for now, however, Biden’s hopes for a massive infrastructure overhaul seem to have hit a dead end.