House progressives won't back infrastructure deal without $3.5T reconciliation package

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The House Progressive Caucus said Tuesday its members would not vote to pass a bipartisan infrastructure package unless the Senate first approves a $3.5 trillion plan to fund their preferred policies, signaling a potential battle between two wings of the Democratic Party over President Biden’s signature legislation.

In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, leading progressives cautioned a “majority” of the 96-member caucus would withhold a “yes” vote if the $1 trillion bipartisan deal is brought up for consideration before the Senate adopts a “robust reconciliation package.”

The declaration came shortly after the Senate vote 69-30 in favor of the deal, which includes $550 billion in new spending on physical infrastructure projects such as roads, bridges and water pipes.

“We therefore encourage you to continue coordinating closely between the two chambers, collaborating with the White House, and engaging with our caucus so that the reconciliation framework reflects our shared and longstanding investment priorities, and that the Senate first adopts this reconciliation package before House consideration of any bipartisan infrastructure legislation,” the Progressive Caucus’ leadership said in the letter.

Introduced earlier this week by Schumer and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., the $3.5 trillion spending plan includes massive investments in education, affordable housing, clean energy, child care and other projects favored by progressives. The budget proposal includes many elements of Biden’s “American Jobs Plan” and “American Families Plan” that were left out of the bipartisan deal.

Signatories of the letter sent to Democratic leadership included Democratic Reps. Pramila Jayapal, Katie Porter and Ilhan Omar.

Democrats plan to pass the $3.5 trillion budget proposal through reconciliation. The process allows for passage through a simple majority vote, rather than the 60 votes required to break a GOP filibuster. Republicans are opposed to the larger spending plan, arguing it is too costly and focused on Democratic priorities rather than the country’s needs.

Last month, Pelosi indicated that she would not bring the bipartisan deal to the House floor for a vote until the Senate also approves the larger reconciliation package. But some moderate Democratic senators, including Sen. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, have joined with Republicans in expressing concern about the plan’s price tag.

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