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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Democrats in a caucus meeting late Monday that they must pass the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill this week before their massive reconciliation bill, a reversal of her past stance that could throw the passage of both into doubt.
Pelosi, D-Calif., was allied with progressive members of her party who for months were demanding that the reconciliation bill pass before infrastructure. She shifted that stance recently with the aim of uniting Democrats around a framework of a reconciliation bill – not fully passing it – before moving ahead with infrastructure.
But Monday night marked a full reversal for Pelosi, who said stubborn Senate moderates and the looming expiration of highway funds is forcing her hand.
"There are many things on the table, the Continuing Resolution, which expires September 30th, the highway reauthorization – authorization expires September 30th," Pelosi said at the meeting, according to a source familiar with her comments.
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"But here’s the thing: I told all of you that we wouldn’t go on to the BIF [until] we had the reconciliation bill passed by the Senate. 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 to come down," Pelosi added, according to the person familiar. "It all changed, so our approach had to change… We had to accommodate the changes that were being necessitated. And we cannot be ready to say until the Senate passed the bill, we can’t do BIF."
BIF is Capitol Hill shorthand for the "Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework."
Pelosi emphasized that she is still committed to passing a reconciliation bill. "It isn't about diminishing the importance of the reconciliation," she said of the bill Democrats marked up at $3.5 trillion.
But the whiplash change in strategy is likely to upset progressives, who said for weeks they will vote against the infrastructure bill unless they have some kind of an agreement on the much more expensive reconciliation bill.
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"I don't believe it’ll [infrastructure bill] come for a vote unless we get the reconciliation bill done," Progressive Caucus Chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., said Monday night. "So I don't think it's impossible that it's done by Thursday, that's what we're working towards and if that were to happen, than we’d be thrilled to vote for both."
Pressed further on whether progressives will withhold their votes on infrastructure when Pelosi says the House will vote on the bill Thursday, Jayapal added, "We are going to vote for both bills when the reconciliation bill is done."
FOX Business' Chad Pergram and Jason Donner contributed to this report.
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