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Pelosi offers to ‘advance’ budget and infrastructure measures together

Moderate Democrats threatened to vote against a budget resolution without a vote on infrastructure first

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., ouside the Capitol  on Wednesday. She is seeking to win approval of a budget resolution the week of Aug. 23.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., ouside the Capitol on Wednesday. She is seeking to win approval of a budget resolution the week of Aug. 23. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday sought to reach a compromise with nine moderate House Democrats, who have threatened to vote against adopting the budget resolution unless the House first votes on a Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure bill.

In a “Dear Colleague” letter to House Democrats, Pelosi said she “requested that the Rules Committee explore the possibility of a rule that advances both the budget resolution and the bipartisan infrastructure package.”

A vote to adopt a rule, which sets terms for floor debate, wouldn’t clear the $550 billion infrastructure bill for President Joe Biden’s signature. But it would set up floor consideration of the package later this year.

The Senate passed the bill on Tuesday and approved the budget resolution along party lines on Wednesday. The latter would set up a filibuster-proof $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill that would fund key parts of Biden’s social safety net and climate agenda.

Pelosi, D-Calif., followed the Senate’s action by calling the chamber back into session the week of Aug. 23. She has said for months she will not hold a floor vote on the infrastructure bill until the Senate approves the reconciliation package. Her letter Sunday would not change that strategy.

A group of nine centrist Democrats sent Pelosi a letter Friday saying they “will not consider voting for a budget resolution until the bipartisan infrastructure” bill is enacted — throwing a wrench into Democrats’ timeline for the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the tax and spending bill they hope to advance later this year.

Democrats cannot officially advance the reconciliation package until both chambers adopt the fiscal 2022 budget resolution that contains the instructions needed for that process.

And with Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer saying they hope to have the reconciliation bills drafted by Sept. 15, there’s not much time left to adopt the budget.

Georgia’s Carolyn Bourdeaux, Hawaii’s Ed Case, California’s Jim Costa, Maine’s Jared Golden, New Jersey’s Josh Gottheimer, Oregon’s Kurt Schrader and Texans Henry Cuellar, Vicente Gonzalez and Filemon Vela did not immediately return requests for comment Sunday about whether they’d vote for the budget resolution if a rule to set up floor votes on the infrastructure bill later this year is put on the floor.

In her letter Sunday, Pelosi said Democrats “will proceed in a way that builds consensus in our Caucus, promotes the values of our party and advances the President’s transformative vision to Build Back Better.”

But in order to do that she’ll need nearly all of her members to agree on a path forward. Democrats can only lose three votes on the budget resolution or reconciliation package and still advance the measures, if all House Republicans are opposed.  

Another priority for Democrats when they return to vote later this month is action to update the Voting Rights Act in response to Supreme Court rulings that trimmed the federal government’s power to pre-clear or invalidate changes to state law that could reduce minority voting power.

In her letter, Pelosi said the House Judiciary Committee would meet Monday to discuss a bill to be named in honor of the late Georgia Rep. John Lewis, “and we anticipate passing this vital bill when we return.”

Michael Macagnone contributed to this report.

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