Aug 20, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Nine House centrists double down on passing infrastructure before budget

Congressman Joshua Gottheimer speaks at press conference...

Rep. Josh Gottheimer. Photo: Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

The nine House centrists pressing for a quick vote on the bipartisan infrastructure deal are doubling down on their position that the House should pass the Senate's bipartisan infrastructure bill before moving to the Democrat-only $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package.

Why it matters: After a week of pressure from White House officials — as well as their own Democratic congressional leaders — the nine centrist lawmakers are not dropping their demands.

What they're saying: "We cannot wait," said Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux (D-Ga.) "Everyone knows time kills deals."

  • "We must pass the $1 trillion Senate physical infrastructure package immediately and send it to the president without changing it and without linking it to the $3.5 trillion social infrastructure package,” said Rep. Ed Case (D-Hawaii).
  • "We should first vote immediately on the bipartisan infrastructure package, send it to the president's desk, and then quickly consider the budget resolution, which I plan to support," said Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.). "We need to get people to work and shovels in the ground."

The big picture: Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) have been privately advising the nine House centrist lawmakers all week, ahead of a planned vote by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Monday to move forward with the budget package.

  • Administration officials, including National Economic Council director Brian Deese, legislative affairs director Louisa Terrell, House liaison Shuwanza Goff and Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, have been contacting lawmakers and urging them to reconsider.
  • Pelosi referred to their tactics as “amateur hour” in a leadership call earlier this week, Politico reported.
  • But the group is remaining unified, and the conversations with the senators appear to have bolstered their resolve.

Between the lines: Some of the nine lawmakers are vowing to support the reconciliation process as soon they receive a vote on infrastructure.

  • “I believe we should bring the bipartisan infrastructure package, supported by 50 Senate Democrats and 19 Republicans, to the floor for a vote and immediate passage next week for the President’s swift signature,” said Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Texas). "Immediately thereafter, I will support a budget resolution and look forward to the negotiation of a reconciliation package."
  • Others are less explicit that they are committed to vote for $3.5 trillion in new spending.
  • “The ambiguity of the reconciliation process would leave the bipartisan infrastructure package in limbo and lead to possible failure,” said Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.).
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