House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) engaged in some partisan posturing earlier this year by linking a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure agreement to a much larger budget reconciliation package being pushed exclusively by Democrats.
It appears the move has pitted moderates and progressives in her own party against each other, however, and she has responded by pushing ahead with a vote on the infrastructure bill over progressive objections and threats to vote against it.
According to Fox Business, the sudden reversal is due in part to the fact that highway and transportation funding, which would be replenished upon the passage of the infrastructure bill, is set to run out in the near future.
Of course, Pelosi’s decision seemed to break a vow she made to the progressive wing of her party to essentially hold the infrastructure bill hostage in order to gain leverage over moderates who have balked at the lavish spending and tax hikes associated with the reconciliation bill.
Pelosi reportedly informed her Democratic caucus of her shift in strategy during a meeting on Monday.
She is quoted as blaming “stubborn moderates” and the expiration of transportation funding for her reluctant decision to back off from her promise to hold the infrastructure bill vote back.
“We were right on schedule to do all of that, until 10 days ago, a week ago, when I heard the news that this number had come down,” Pelosi said. “It all changed, so our approach had to change. … We had to accommodate the changes that were being necessitated.”
“Not a lemming”
She appeared to reiterate the message in a subsequent press release citing the “moral imperative” of passing the Biden agenda in the reconciliation bill and asserting that “change in circumstances” had led to her reversal rather than a shift in values.
“It would be a dereliction of duty for us to build the infrastructure of America without doing so in a manner that addresses the climate crisis significantly, which enables the U.S. to meet its emission goals by 2030 and do so in a timely fashion,” the speaker concluded. “To do so, we must pass the Build Back Better Act.”
Politico reported on Pelosi’s decision, noting that it came as House progressives doubled down on their threats to vote against the bipartisan bill unless they were also able to vote on the larger reconciliation bill.
Moderate Democrats, on the other hand, continue to object to various aspects of the Biden agenda bill. One such lawmaker, Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), said: “I am a legislator, not a lemming.”
In the end, this impasse within the Democratic Party seems to have been all been created by Pelosi’s effort to manipulate her caucus — and it just might threaten the chances of both spending bills ever being signed into law.