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Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

As the White House moves closer to endorsing the G20's bipartisan infrastructure deal, progressive Democrats are making clear they won't get on board without a guarantee.

Why it matters: Left-leaning Democrats want a commitment the Senate will also act on a reconciliation bill — and some are insisting they vote on one first. They fear getting left behind as lawmakers from both parties increasingly sign on to the G20 framework.

  • Members of Congress who favor bold climate and child care action see the partisan reconciliation process — and its reduced, 51-vote requirement to pass legislation — as the best means for achieving those aims.

Between the lines: Progressive Democrats are exerting as much pressure as they can before President Biden takes an official position on the G20 bill.

  • The general view among many lawmakers and aides is that most Democrats will be "good soldiers" — as one Senate Democratic aide put it — and get on board if the president endorses the deal.
  • But some progressives are saying they won't give their support without conditions.

What they're saying: "There's only one deal to be made here, not two separate deals," Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) told Axios.

  • "And that deal may have a bipartisan portion that covers some subset of what needs to be done on infrastructure, but we've got to have an agreement on the whole package, and that means we need every Democrat committed to moving through reconciliation."

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said: "It's going to be either both or nothing. There will not be a bipartisan bill unless there's a major reconciliation bill."

  • Sanders said he doesn't think Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) would put a bipartisan bill on the floor without guaranteeing he'll also offer a reconciliation bill.
  • "Most progressives believe that the Senate ... needs to pass the reconciliation bill before the House votes for the bipartisan bill, and we can vote on them both together," Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) told Axios' Andrew Freedman.

What we're hearing: Schumer's team knows these lawmakers need assurances to move forward, and that they will ultimately have to give them some. They don't know yet in what form.

  • Remember: Schumer is up for re-election in 2022 and could face a challenge from a more progressive candidate — such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).

What isn’t getting enough attention: How the House ultimately factors into this.

  • It’ll be incredibly difficult for Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to wrangle her chamber's progressives on a standalone bill not addressing the more ambitious climate and family provisions.
  • And House Democrats have only a five-seat majority — leaving Pelosi little wiggle room.

Be smart: "In my view, 60 to 70 House members won't support it if it doesn't have climate in it, unless they pass the reconciliation simultaneously," Khanna told Axios.

  • "It's not personal," Khanna said. "It's institutional; we simply can't trust that the Senate will deliver on a reconciliation, and to take the word of the institution."

Go deeper

Sep 29, 2021 - Politics & Policy

House Democrats pass bill to suspend debt limit

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

House Democrats on Wednesday passed a bill, 219-212, to suspend the debt limit through December 2022, sending it to the Senate, where it is expected to fail.

Why it matters: Democrats are trying to exhaust all options in order to pass the debt limit on the floor without forcing it to go through the partisan budget reconciliation process, but Republicans continue to obstruct that effort.

Sep 30, 2021 - Politics

Pelosi defiant on infrastructure vote

Nancy Pelosi holds her weekly press briefing on Capitol Hill today. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said she's moving full steam ahead with her plans to hold a vote on the Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure bill on Thursday, sounding optimistic about the bill's chances despite progressive Democrats threatening to sink it.

Why it matters: Today's vote — should it occur — will be a crucial indicator of how long it will take, and how difficult it will be, to pass President Biden's agenda.

Oct 1, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Infrastructure vote delayed while leaders hash out deal

Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

A vote on the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill was delayed late Thursday night as leaders on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue continue to hash out a deal on President Biden's larger reconciliation package.

Why it matters: Pelosi had promised centrist Democrats she would bring the Senate-passed measure to the floor today, and spent hours negotiating with members in order to fulfill her pledge.

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