Nov 5, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Progressives roiled by Pelosi’s sudden strategy shift

Photo: Craig Hudson/Bloomberg via Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the House would move forward with a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill Friday, despite anger and surprise from progressives in the caucus who were caught off guard by the sudden shift in strategy.

Driving the news: Pelosi changed course when she called for a vote on the infrastructure bill before a final vote on the social spending package as a way to appease moderates who want to see a CBO score.

  • Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) said progressives would not support a standalone infrastructure vote and would likewise wait for a CBO score, leaving a path forward on both bills unclear.
  • “This has been a bit of a curveball, this latest development, and it’s unsettling and disruptive, and I hope we can get back on that original track," said Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), a progressive member. “It is a moving of the goalposts that surprised a lot of people, takes us on a very different track, in some ways puts us back to where we were the prior two times. That’s not a good place for me and many of my colleagues.”
  • "I think you can say people are frustrated,” said Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.).
  • Rep. Kai Kahele (D.-Hawaii) also said progressives are “frustrated” and echoed Jayapal’s willingness to wait for CBO score: “If some of our colleagues want to see a CBO score, maybe we’ll wait.”
  • Pelosi and leadership tried to assuage progressive concerns, noting at a press conference they would vote and pass the larger spending package by Thanksgiving at the latest.
  • Moderates are demanding a CBO score on the package, which could take several weeks.
  • The delay, a third in just over a month’s time on the president's agenda, comes after a frenetic whipping effort from Pelosi on Thursday and several phone calls to undecided House Democrats from the president himself late in the evening.

Moderate Rep. Jared Golden (D-Maine) told reporters he is a “no” on the larger spending bill without a CBO score adding that he also wants the bipartisan infrastructure bill to be voted on first.

  • Pelosi spent the morning meeting with Golden and other moderates, including Reps. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.), Ed Case (D-Hawaii), Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.) and Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.).

Between the lines: The infrastructure bill, which has already passed the Senate, only needs a vote in the House before it heads to the president’s desk and can be signed into law.

What's next: The House is scheduled to recess next week.

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