House Speaker Nancy Pelosi set a new deadline of October 31 for Congress to pass a $1.2 trillion infrastructure package, telling Democratic colleagues “it’s about time!” to pass the legislation, after a scheduled vote on Thursday was called off when it became clear progressives in the party weren’t going to let the bill pass.
Pelosi said in a letter to colleagues she hopes the infrastructure bill will be passed “well before then,” referring to an October 31 deadline for highway funding.
Democratic leadership was determined to have a vote on the infrastructure package late in the week, but it was called off after progressive Democrats made clear they wouldn’t vote for the infrastructure bill unless they had assurances from centrist Democrats there would be enough support to pass a separate budget bill targeting social programs and environmental issues.
President Joe Biden, progressive Democrats in the House and centrist Senate Democrats Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) have been meeting to reach a deal to allow the budget package to pass the Senate.
Progressive Democrats say a deal must be in place before voting to pass the infrastructure bill.
6. That’s how many times Pelosi used the phrase “It’s about time!” in her letter Saturday, expressing frustrations over delays in passing the infrastructure bill.
What To Watch For
Senate Democrats are working to pass the budget bill through the reconciliation process, which doesn’t require any Republican support but does mean every Senate Democrat will have to vote for the bill. As it stands, the bill would authorize $3.5 trillion in funding, but Manchin says his ceiling for the bill is $1.5 trillion. Biden told House Democrats on Friday that he expects to work out a deal to bring the budget bill’s price tag down to somewhere between $1.9 trillion and $2.2 trillion.
It’s a busy time in Congress as negotiations remain ongoing over trillions of dollars in spending while the U.S. is on the precipice of defaulting on its debts for the first time in history. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Tuesday the country must act quickly to raise the debt ceiling or risk default and likely economic catastrophe, but Democrats in the Senate have been unable to pass any measure that would raise the debt ceiling, since Republicans have blocked efforts so far. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday, “There is no chance—no chance—the Republican conference will go out of our way to help Democrats conserve their time and energy so they can resume ramming through partisan socialism as fast as possible,” referring to the budget bill. At least one major piece of business was taken care of this past week, though, with Congress approving a measure to keep the government funded through December ahead of a 12:01 a.m. Friday deadline.