Sep 26, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Centrists back $3.5T package

Reps. Vicente Gonzalez and Filemon Vela are seen in a pair of side-by-side headshots.

Reps. Vicente Gonzalez (left) and Filemon Vela. Photos: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call and Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Two of the nine House centrists who demanded Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) bring the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill to the floor by Monday are now publicly promising to vote for the separate $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: By explicitly announcing their support for a big package targeting climate change and expanding the social safety net, Reps. Vicente Gonzalez (D-Texas) and Filemon Vela (D-Texas) are trying to convince progressives to vote for the infrastructure bill this week.

  • Nonetheless, the two lawmakers also make it clear the House needs to vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill as soon as possible.
  • “We support swift passage of the president’s $3.5 trillion reconciliation package,” they write in a joint statement obtained by Axios. “The bipartisan infrastructure framework would, on average, deliver $1.2 billion per congressional district.”
  • “However, the idea that denying passage of the Senate’s Bipartisan Infrastructure bill [BIF] somehow exercises 'leverage' over some of our more fiscally conservative members is wholly misguided."

Between the lines: It’s unclear how many of the nine centrists who forced Pelosi to schedule the vote by Sept. 27 are actually on board for a big spending bill.

  • On Friday night, five of them — Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), Ed Case (D-Hawaii), Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.), Jared Golden (D-Maine) and Carolyn Bourdeaux (D-Ga.) — met with the speaker.
  • Some of them have indicated privately and publicly they're opposed to a $3.5 trillion price tag.
  • Gottheimer, the group's leader, insists the Senate must move first and establish the bill’s price tag, which can then be considered by the House: “Whatever we can get 51 in the Senate on, which we will, we will get done and it'll be coming into law,” Gottheimer told NPR on Saturday.

Driving the news: Progressive lawmakers are still threatening to tank the bipartisan bill if the outlines of a reconciliation package aren't agreed to in the House and Senate — and insist they have the votes to kill the bipartisan package.

  • "I don't believe there is going to be a vote," Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union." “The votes aren’t there.”

The big picture: House leaders promised all last week they will hold a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure package on Monday or Tuesday.

  • Pelosi left open the possibility of reneging on her deal with the centrists.
  • "We will bring the bill to the floor [Monday] for consideration," she said on ABC's "This Week." "I'm never bringing a bill to the floor that doesn’t have the votes.”
  • "You cannot choose the date. You have to go when you have the votes, in a reasonable time," Pelosi also said. "It's an eventful week."

What's next: Pelosi will convene the House Democratic caucus at 5:30 p.m. ET Monday to make her case before the vote.

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