- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 30, 2021

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is considering putting both President Biden’s $1.75 trillion social welfare bill and the $1.25 trillion infrastructure package up for a vote next week.

Mrs. Pelosi, a California Democrat, is eyeing holding both votes as early as Tuesday. The consideration comes as pressure mounts to finalize work on Mr. Biden’s domestic agenda before Congress hits the government funding deadline on Dec. 3.

A source close to Democratic leadership told the Washington Times that no decision had been made officially, but there was an increasing desire to “move forward.” The feeling is especially strong as Mr. Biden is overseas representing the U.S. at a series of global conferences.

Earlier this week, Mrs. Pelosi underscored the high stakes facing Mr. Biden as he prepares for meetings with leaders from the world’s 20 major economic powers and attends the U.N. Climate Change summit in Glasgow, Scotland.  

“What this legislation will do is to help the president meet his goals, the goals of America,” said the speaker. “When he goes to meetings with the G-20 now and then to meet His Holiness, the pope, and to go to Glasgow, we want him to go as strong as possible.”

It remains to be seen whether progressive Democrats agree.

The 98-member Congressional Progressive Caucus has long said the infrastructure and social welfare bills are linked and will have to pass together. A significant hurdle towards that goal was overcome earlier this week when Mr. Biden agreed to a 1,684-compromise framework on the social welfare bill.

“We have the text, that’s what we needed,” said. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, a Washington Democrat who chairs the CPC.

Despite the rhetoric, there is still strong distrust among moderate and far-left Democrats that is likely to cause delays. While progressives have the legislative text of the social welfare bill, it is by no means a final product.

The bill is likely to see large alterations as it goes through the legislative process. Such action is likely to take place within the Senate, where moderate Democrats like Sen. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona hold the balance of power.

The reality stems from the fact that Democrats are using budget reconciliation to pass the $1.75 trillion social welfare bill. Reconciliation allows some spending and tax measures to avert the Senate’s 60-vote filibuster threshold and pass via a simple majority of 51-votes.

For some on the far-left, that means allowing the reconciliation bill to leave the House before it passes the Senate is just asking for it to be watered down even more.

“I need a Senate vote. I need a Senate vote,” Rep. Cori Bush, a Missouri Democrat. “Right now that’s still where I stand.”

Complicating matters is that neither Mr. Manchin nor Ms. Sinema has voiced their support for the $1.75 trillion compromise framework being championed by the White House.

At the moment, progressives see the infrastructure bill, which Mr. Manchin and Ms. Sinema helped negotiate, as their best leverage. As such, progressives are likely to continue blocking the infrastructure deal until moderates in the Senate send the reconciliation bill their way.

• Haris Alic can be reached at halic@washingtontimes.com.

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