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Moderate Democrats Demand Quick Passage of Infrastructure Bill

August 13, 2021 by Dan McCue
Rep. Josh Gottheimer, of New Jersey. (Photo by Dan McCue)

WASHINGTON — Nine moderate House Democrats delivered a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi Friday, saying they will not vote for a budget resolution intended to advance a sweeping, $3.5 trillion climate and social policy package this year unless a separate infrastructure bill is approved first.

The letter is the latest chapter in an effort to have two very different legislative packages proceed through Congress in parallel and wind up on President Joe Biden’s desk for his signature at the same time.

Friday’s letter was signed by Reps. Josh Gottheimer, of New Jersey, Carolyn Bourdeaux, of Georgia, Filemon Vela, of Texas, Jared Golden, of Maine, Henry Cuellar, of Texas, Vicente Gonzalez, of Texas, Ed Case, of Hawaii, Jim Costa, of California, and Kurt Schrader, of Oregon.

In it they say they will not even consider voting for the budget resolution “until the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passes the House and is signed into law.” 

“With the livelihoods of hardworking American families at stake, we simply can’t afford months of unnecessary delays and risk squandering this one-in-a-century, bipartisan infrastructure package,” the letter continues. “It’s time to get shovels in the ground and people to work.”

The letter is an open break with Pelosi, who insists the House will not vote on the $1 trillion package of road, rail, water and other infrastructure projects until the Senate sends the House the companion $3.5 trillion bill.

It also represents a second split in the caucus over the plan. Previously, the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which includes nearly 100 House Democrats, said a majority of its members have said they would vote against the infrastructure bill until the expansive $3.5 trillion legislation has cleared the Senate.

On Tuesday, the Senate passed the first of these bills, the $1.2 trillion infrastructure package with 69 votes, including 19 Republicans.

It later approved, in a party-line vote, a procedural resolution that will allow the climate and social policy package to advance without fear of being blocked by a Republican filibuster.

A final vote on the measure, which represents the heart of Biden’s domestic agenda, is not expected until autumn. 

The opposition by the moderates would be more than enough to block consideration of the budget bill in the House, where Democrats hold just a three-seat majority. 

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