(WASHINGTON) – After two days of internal struggles and Democratic drama, the fate of President Joe Biden’s infrastructure program remained uncertain on Friday night after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had to repeatedly postpone the vote on a bipartisan infrastructure bill because Progressive Democrats had pledged to vote against it – unless there is an agreement on a larger spending package.
The feud has so compromised Biden’s top legislative priorities that he traveled to Capitol Hill on Friday afternoon to meet with House Democrats to clarify that he wants the bipartisan infrastructure bill to be 1 , $ 2 trillion and the social safety net and the $ 3.5 trillion climate policy measure be passed.
“It doesn’t matter when. It doesn’t matter if it’s six minutes, six days, or six weeks. We’re going to do it, ”Biden told reporters as he emerged.
Behind closed doors, Biden suggested that a smaller social policy bill price ranging from $ 1.9 trillion to $ 2.2 trillion could be the compromise in tense negotiations involving the White House, Progressive Democrats, moderates and two key Senate Democrats, according to sources in the room.
Such an investment, along with the $ 1.2 trillion bipartisan highway bill, would still be a huge investment, he told caucus, the sources said.
“Even a smaller bill can make historic investments,” they said, quoting Biden.
The bipartisan infrastructure bill “will not take place until we find an agreement on the next piece of legislation,” he added, according to the sources. “Let’s try to figure out what we are used for in reconciliation… and then we can move on.”
He made it clear that he had campaigned on the proposals of the larger package, they said, but did not suggest or approve a specific timetable for votes in the House or Senate.
A Democrat inside the room told ABC News correspondent Rachel Scott they were “overwhelmingly disappointed.”
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the lawmaker told him “when the President of the United States comes is to make the deal – not to say hello”. The member added: “Most of us are at a loss for words. There was no plan. No strategy. No timing.
Earlier on Friday, Pelosi and the House Democrats held another caucus meeting for more than two and a half hours as they tried to find a way forward for their political agenda after the Democratic leadership and the White House did not ‘failed to rally progressives and moderates behind the president’s broader agenda.
Inside this closed-door rally, which typically looks like a group therapy session turned into a rally of encouragement, Pelosi took the opportunity to take the temperature of his caucus. Centrist members of the swing districts pushed for an immediate vote on the Senate infrastructure bill. Progressives insisted they would block it unless the Senate first approves the massive social policy package – hardening the stance they took for several weeks.
“No. We need a vote,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, DN.Y. said outside the morning caucus meeting. “We have to be real. Are we going to deliver Universal Kindergarten to This country, or not? Are we going to extend health care to our seniors and improve vision and dental care, or not? “
Pelosi told members Democrats needed to act quickly and the situation was “perishable,” according to sources familiar with his comments.
“We cannot and I will not ask you to vote BIF (short for Capitol Hill for the bipartisan infrastructure framework) until we have the best possible deal we can stick with,” he said. Pelosi told Democrats. “And it’s not just me. This is the President of the United States.
“So that’s why we intend to bring up the vote today. It is our intention to win the vote today, ”she added, according to sources close to her remarks.
As she arrived at the Capitol on Friday morning, ABC News asked Pelosi if she was trying to engage members by promising a second reconciliation bill early next year in a bid to appease members now, after swearing again on Thursday that a reconciliation bill would follow the vote on the bipartisan package.
“I don’t know, but a reconciliation bill is not excluded. It’s not necessarily related to that, ”she said.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer arrived a minute before Pelosi, telling reporters “we’ll see” when asked if the House would vote on the measure before the end of the day.
Pelosi had insisted for two mornings that she planned to vote on the $ 1.2 trillion infrastructure bill passed by the Senate.
Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., Exiting Friday morning caucus meeting, said she had “seen more progress in the past 48 hours than we have seen for a long time on reconciliation “.
She reiterated the progressives’ position that they will vote “no” unless there is an agreement with moderate Democratic senators on a larger package of social spending to go along with it.
Senator Joe Manchin, DW.Va., who with and Senator Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz. oppose the cost of the bigger bill, told reporters on Thursday that he had already communicated to management that his revenue was $ 1.5 trillion – well below the escalating figure of $ 3.5 trillion. dollars.
Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.