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Pelosi strategizes to quell moderates’ budget rebellion

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks at a press conference
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
(Nick Otto / Associated Press)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is proposing a procedural vote this month that would set up future passage of two economic measures crucial to President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda, a move Democratic leaders hope will win votes from unhappy party moderates.

In a letter Sunday to Democratic lawmakers, Pelosi (D-Calif.) suggested that the House will take a single vote that would clear an initial hurdle for both a budget resolution and a separate infrastructure bill. The budget blueprint would open the gate for Congress to later consider a separate $3.5-trillion, 10-year bill for social and environment programs.

Nine centrist Democrats said Friday that they would vote against the budget resolution until the House first approves the bipartisan $1-trillion package of road, railway and other infrastructure projects. That measure, which the Senate approved last week, is the top priority for moderates, who want to bank a quick win by sending it to Biden for his signature.

By forcing lawmakers to vote on moving both measures an initial step forward together, Democratic leaders hope moderates will be forced to abandon their threat — at least for now — and join the rest of the party in pushing its economic and social agenda toward eventual passage.

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In the face of solid Republican opposition, Democrats can lose no more than three defectors to pass legislation through the closely split House. Democrats are calling the House back from summer recess on Aug. 23.

“Our goal is to pass the budget resolution the week of August 23rd so that we may pass Democrats’ Build Back Better agenda” as fast as possible, Pelosi wrote, using the name for Biden’s overall economic plans.

She said the initial procedural vote she wants the House to take “will put us on a path to advance” both the infrastructure and the social and environment measures.

The $3.5-trillion measure is the top priority for progressive Democrats. Passing the budget resolution is pivotal because that would shield the $3.5-trillion bill from Republican Senate filibusters, or delays, that would kill it.


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