Pelosi: No infrastructure deal unless second bill on liberal priorities


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi vowed Thursday to block any infrastructure package until the Senate passes a “human infrastructure” package, filled with liberal priorities such as job training for felons and combating climate change, along party lines if necessary.

“Let me be really clear on this: We will not take up a bill in the House until the Senate passes the bipartisan bill and a reconciliation bill,” the California Democrat said. “If there is no bipartisan bill, then we’ll just go when the Senate passes a reconciliation bill.”

The speaker made the remarks shortly before a group of 21 senators met with President Biden at the White House and reached a tentative deal on a nearly $1 trillion public works package. The group agreed this week to a tentative “framework” after meeting with senior members of the administration’s domestic policy team.

Although few details have been released, the proposal would extend spending on roads, bridges and other public projects over the next five to eight years. More than $550 billion in the proposal comes from new revenue sources that have yet to be made public.

The package focuses exclusively on conventional infrastructure, including upgrades to the nation’s roads and bridges. Although it allocates money to deploy electric vehicle charging stations, it is significantly more narrow than the initial $2.3 trillion that Mr. Biden proposed.

Liberals say Democrats should not give up on a larger package that includes “hard” infrastructure, such as upgrades to transportation systems, and social welfare and climate change programs.

As such, liberals are demanding a guarantee: If they support the bipartisan deal, then all 50 Senate Democrats must agree to vote for a second package via budget reconciliation. The process allows spending bills to pass the Senate with a simple majority of 51 votes.  

“I’m hopeful that we would have a bipartisan bill. I think it would be really important to demonstrate the bipartisanship that has always been a hallmark of our infrastructure legislation,” said Mrs. Pelosi. “But we’re not going down the path unless we all go down the path together.”

Mrs. Pelosi’s pledge underscores the troubles of Mr. Biden‘s agenda in a Congress narrowly controlled by Democrats.

The situation is particularly tenuous in the Senate, which is split 50-50 between the parties. In that chamber, most bills require 60 votes to overcome a filibuster. This means Mr. Biden needs the support of at least 10 Republicans and all 50 Democrats to score a legislative victory. 

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