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Pelosi and progressives head for clash over bipartisan infrastructure bill

Washington – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and progressive House lawmakers head for a face-to-face with a vote this week on the bipartisan infrastructure bill, as the California Democrat unlinked the measure the much larger $ 3.5 trillion social spending program narrow in the middle of the party. divisions over its price.

While Pelosi initially planned to push the two proposals through Congress simultaneously as part of a two-track strategy endorsed by Democratic leaders and President Biden, the speaker told members of her caucus at a meeting Monday that the approach was due to change, two sources familiar with the comments told CBS News.

Pelosi said that while the House was initially on schedule to consider the bipartisan infrastructure bill after the larger package was approved by the Senate, the landscape changed 10 days ago when it came down to it. learned that $ 3.5 trillion in revenue was set to decline, the sources said.

The shift in strategy – to push forward the bipartisan infrastructure bill on its own – triggers a confrontation between Democratic leaders and progressive lawmakers, who have threatened to derail the infrastructure plan unless the social spending package fails. be adopted first.

The Congressional Progressive Caucus, led by Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal of Washington, said Tuesday that its position on the infrastructure bill and the broader plan “remains unchanged.”

“Progressives will vote for both bills, but a majority of our members will vote for the infrastructure bill only after the president’s visionary Build Back Better Act is passed,” Jayapal said in a statement. communicated. declaration after a meeting of the group of 96 members.

The Washington Democrat told reporters after Monday’s meeting that Democrats would not get the votes necessary to pass the bipartisan bill if the $ 3.5 trillion plan did not reach the Senate first or if a frame on the package could not be accepted.

“Until that happens, there are no votes for the infrastructure bill,” she said. “So we are all working really hard to make sure this reconciliation piece is completed, pre-conference, accepted, and then we will happily vote on both bills.”

As Progressives stood firm in their stance on the order of the two bills, they received encouragement from Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who urged his colleagues in the House “to vote against the bipartisan bill on infrastructure until Congress passes a strong reconciliation bill.

“Let’s be clear. If the bipartisan infrastructure bill passes alone Thursday, it will be in violation of an agreement reached within the Democratic caucus in Congress,” said Sanders, an independent who votes with Democrats and chairs the Senate Budget Committee, said in a series of tweets. “More importantly, it will put an end to all the levers we have to pass a major reconciliation bill.”

The house is should vote Thursday on the $ 1,000 billion bipartisan infrastructure bill, which aims to provide the largest investment in the country’s roads, bridges, railways and ports in decades. While former Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump have vowed to revitalize the country’s physical infrastructure, none have succeeded, and passing Mr. Biden’s proposal would give him a crucial victory for his domestic policy agenda.

The Senate approved the infrastructure measure in a bipartisan vote last month, and Pelosi pledged to moderate Democrats that the House would pass the legislation by September 27 after threatening to derail the fiscal framework that has paved the way for Congress to begin work on the offshore ranging from $ 3.5 trillion package. The sweeping measure encompasses Democrats’ plans for universal preschool, child and senior care, free community college and to fight climate change.

But the details of that package are still being worked out, and two key moderate Democrats in the Senate, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, have for weeks voiced their opposition to the $ 3.5 trillion price tag. .

Pelosi told his fellow House Democrats on Monday that Mr Biden was working on the highest number that would satisfy Manchin and Sinema and noted that Congress could not move forward with the larger plan without that figure, the sources said. She also reiterated the need for Democrats in the House and Senate to agree on the package to pass by both chambers.

Despite the rifts within the party, Pelosi expressed confidence to reporters Tuesday following a meeting with House Democrats that Congress “will pass both bills”.

The president is expected to meet with Manchin and Sinema separately at the White House on Tuesday, a source familiar with the plans confirmed to CBS News. He also spoke with Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Monday to discuss the way forward for the infrastructure plan and the $ 3.5 trillion package, according to the White House.

Sara Cook contributed to this report.