The House will vote on both President Joe Biden’s sweeping social safety net plan and the bipartisan infrastructure bill on Friday, according to a senior Democratic aide.
House Democratic leaders had been hoping for a vote on the economic package on Thursday evening, but key sticking points remained into the evening.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that the Rules Committee would meet Thursday to handle an amendment to the social spending bill. Earlier in the day, in a closed-door meeting with Democrats, she had said her plan was to vote on it Thursday night and then hold a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill Friday morning, according to two sources. It was unclear, however, whether Democrats had the votes to move ahead with that schedule.
Biden has had multiple calls with House Democrats on Thursday as leadership has pushed to lock down the votes for the economic and climate package, according to multiple people familiar with the calls.
But Democratic lawmakers say a number of major provisions are still being finalized, including state and local tax deductions, immigration policy and prescription drug pricing.
Additionally, some Democrats have called for a delay until there can be a score from the Congressional Budget Office.
The situation is fluid and House Democratic leaders have already had to delay their timeline for passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill twice before.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer informed lawmakers on the House floor that members will break for dinner, and said that members will have one hour notice if more votes are scheduled Thursday night.
Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Blue Dog and Texas Democrat, said there are enough moderate Democrats who would tank the procedural vote to bring up the $1.75 trillion Build Back Better Act on Thursday night, saying the rule “is not going to pass” if it comes up at that time.
He said there are outstanding issues in the bill to be resolved, including many members who want to understand more of what’s in it and get data from the Congressional Budget Office about its cost.
“As of right now, there are enough votes, in my opinion, to vote no on the rule,” Cuellar said.
Biden working the phones
Biden called Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger of Virginia on Thursday asking her to support the $1.9 trillion economic and climate package, according to multiple sources familiar.
The call comes as House Democratic leadership works to shore up enough votes to pass the bill and after Democrats suffered a bruising electoral loss in Spanberger’s home state earlier this week when they lost the governor’s mansion.
One source familiar with Biden’s calls said he isn’t explicitly advocating for a vote Thursday night in his calls to members, but is asking them to vote yes whenever a vote is set. Biden, throughout the process, has been clear that he has full confidence in Pelosi to determine the schedule and is aware nothing will be scheduled until the votes are locked in.
The call to Spanberger underscores the awareness inside the White House that moderates in particular are frustrated — and in many cases wary — of the process up until this point.
Many moderates have wanted a vote on the infrastructure bill for weeks, and have been exasperated that progressives held that bill up over demands to move forward with the larger social safety net bill in tandem.
House leaders press for a vote
Pelosi’s comments to her caucus are the latest sign of how House leadership wants to move quickly to get both of Biden’s key priorities passed in the House before the week is out.
At her weekly news conference later on Thursday, Pelosi said, “We’re going to pass both bills, but in order to do so, we have to have votes for both bills, and that’s where we are.”
She would not say she had the votes yet to bring the bills to the floor. “Did you see the whip count? Because I’ll tell you something about Mr. Clyburn, he keeps it close to the vest,” Pelosi said.
House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, a Democrat from South Carolina, told reporters he’s meeting with his staff to see if Democrats have the votes for the economic bill.
He said they wouldn’t put a bill on the floor if it didn’t have the votes.
The economic agenda bill, often referred to as the Build Back Better legislation, is a sweeping social safety net expansion plan that would address climate change, deliver aid for families, expand access to health care and enact other liberal agenda items. It would next need to be taken up and passed in the Senate.
The $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill passed out of the Senate in August, and is still awaiting a vote in the House. Passage of that bill has been held up previously as progressives insisted that the two measures move in tandem, but now progressives are signaling they are ready to vote for both pieces of legislation this week.
Still unclear if Democrats have the votes
As of Thursday evening, a vote had not yet been officially scheduled for the House to take up the Build Back Better Act, and it remained unclear if leadership had the votes necessary to pass the sweeping spending bill.
In one potential sign of the challenge to lock down votes, Democratic Rep. Ed Case of Hawaii, a leader of the moderate Blue Dogs, told CNN he hasn’t changed his position: There must be an official score from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office before he can vote for the $1.75 trillion economic package.
“Everything is in the letter,” he said, referring to a letter he and other moderates signed laying out their demands before considering whether to vote for the bill.
Asked if he changed his position, Case said: “No.”
Problem Solvers Caucus Co-Chairman Josh Gottheimer told CNN that they “don’t have a final bill yet” when asked if he was ready to vote on the larger economic package Thursday night.
“There are still pieces being worked through, as you know, in different areas,” he said.
Asked if he still wanted a CBO score, Gottheimer told reporters, “We’ve asked for certain CBO tables. We’re waiting on that. We feel that’s information we’re owed. Those are the kind of things that we think are really important to make sure we go through.”
The New Jersey Democrat also said his party should learn from Tuesday’s elections that “people expect us to act. They expect action.”
He added, “We could vote this week on the bipartisan infrastructure package that was passed out of the Senate over there in August. It’s been sitting here waiting for action. That’d be a great place we can start acting.”
Hoyer said, “I don’t think we are going to leave until we decide what we are going to do with these bills,” when asked if the chamber would stay in town this weekend if they haven’t voted yet on the two bills.
Asked if they would have the votes to pass the $1.75 trillion bill if he put that on that floor now, Hoyer said: “I don’t know that to be the case.”
This story has been updated with additional developments Thursday.
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