Progressives commended House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for signaling late Monday that she does not intend to cede to conservative Democrats who are demanding passage of a bipartisan infrastructure bill before any vote on a $3.5 trillion budget resolution, a centerpiece of the party's social spending and climate agenda.
"This is no time for amateur hour," Pelosi (D-Calif.) reportedly said during a private call with her leadership team, in an apparent reference to the nine conservative House Democrats who are publicly threatening to tank the budget resolution that—if passed—will set the stage for the construction of a sweeping reconciliation bill.
"For the first time, America's children have leverage. I will not surrender that leverage."
—House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
The nine Democrats, led by Rep. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, want the House to pass a widely criticized $550 billion bipartisan infrastructure bill before considering the budget resolution, which the Senate approved last Wednesday.
But, echoing concerns that progressive lawmakers have voiced in recent days, Pelosi told her leadership team that "there is no way we can pass those bills unless we do so in the order that we originally planned." Back in June, Pelosi vowed to delay a vote on the bipartisan measure until the Senate also passes a reconciliation package, a move that's now expected some time in September—assuming the budget resolution passes the House next week.
"For the first time, America's children have leverage," Pelosi said Monday. "I will not surrender that leverage."
According to Politico, which first reported Pelosi's comments on the Monday night call, the House Speaker plans to "put the budget resolution on the floor next week and dare moderates to vote no," an approach that progressives applauded.
"This is exactly right," Leah Greenberg, co-executive director of Indivisible, said Tuesday morning. "Glad to see it."
Politico noted that it's not clear how conservative Democrats will respond to Pelosi's expected "forceful" maneuver.
"Right now there are 11 Democrats—including the nine who publicly signed the letter led by Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.)—who are signaling to leadership they will vote against the budget resolution unless the House is allowed an immediate, up-or-down vote on the Senate infrastructure bill," the outlet reported.
But leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) have made clear that a chunk of their 100 members will not vote for the bipartisan infrastructure bill until the Senate also passes a reconciliation package containing their priorities, including Medicare expansion, major investments in green energy, a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, and paid family and medical leave.
Democrats have a mere three-vote margin in the House, meaning conservatives have the votes to block the budget resolution and progressives likely have the votes to kill the bipartisan bill, depending on how many House Republicans support the measure. Progressives fear that passing the bipartisan infrastructure bill first would free conservative Democrats to abandon the proposed $3.5 trillion reconciliation package, which they have greeted with skepticism.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chair of the CPC, reiterated progressives' position on Sunday while slamming conservative Democrats for threatening to sink their own party's agenda.
"We can't call people moderate Democrats if they vote against child care, paid leave, healthcare, and addressing climate change," Jayapal said. "This is the Democratic agenda, it's the president's agenda, and it's what we promised people across America. Now we must deliver."