Murphy, Cuellar Seek Assurances from Pelosi on Reconciliation Bill
WASHINGTON — Two moderate House Democrats are pressing Speaker Nancy Pelosi for a transparent process in the drafting of the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill, saying in a letter on Friday that her promises in this regard will determine whether they ultimately support the bill or not.
In their letter, Reps. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., and Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, requested that the bill be pre-conferenced with the Senate to avoid major changes in the bill after members of each chamber have voted on a draft.
They also want to be assured that all but the climate provisions of the bill are paid for before a vote takes place, and finally, they want to be given at least 72 hours to review the bill before it goes to the House floor.
The two-page letter, the existence of which was first reported by Politico, is the latest salvo between the moderate and progressive wings of the Democratic party over what the legislation contains and how the bill for it will be paid.
Last month, a group of 10 moderates — including Murphy and Cuellar — nearly derailed the legislation in demanding that a certain date be set for a vote on a smaller infrastructure passage.
Pelosi, who initially resisted a call for the infrastructure bill to be voted on immediately, ultimately set the Sept. 27 date for the vote.
But it won’t be easy to meet that promise. The House is not scheduled to return for votes until Sept. 20, at which time it needs to deal with the debt ceiling, the infrastructure bill, major voting rights legislation, and, as of this week, new abortion rights legislation.
Some on Capitol Hill are already suggesting there’s a chance of a brief government shut down if Congress bogs down under the weight of all this legislation.
On the $3.5 trillion spending bill alone, there are large differences between House factions over the climate provisions in the bill, the inclusion of Medicare expansion, and how to pay for it all.
Several House committees have begun marking up their portions of the legislation and all of them have a Sept. 15 deadline to report their portions to the House Budget Committee.
On Thursday, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal in which he urged his colleagues to take a “strategic pause” on the reconciliation legislation until its full ramifications for the national debt and inflation are known.
Progressives in the House responded angrily to that suggestion, saying they are willing to see the bipartisan infrastructure bill go up in smoke if the House doesn’t pass the sweeping reconciliation package.