Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) has reportedly demanded House Speaker Pelosi (D-CA) honors her promise of commencing a vote for the Senate-passed $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill on or before September 27. If the House fails to pass the bill by the deadline, Sinema will reportedly not support President Joe Biden’s $3.5 trillion Trojan horse reconciliation package.
Sinema told Biden Wednesday, as Politico Playbook reported, that “if the House delays its scheduled Sept. 27 vote on the bipartisan infrastructure plan — or if the vote fails — she won’t be backing a reconciliation bill.” Neither the White House nor Sinema confirmed the account, saying the negotiations are “private.”
Along with Sinema, Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR) has also told Pelosi he will mirror Sinema’s demands in the House. “If they delay the vote — or it goes down — then I think you can kiss reconciliation goodbye,” Schrader explained to Playbook. “Reconciliation would be dead.”
Sinema and Schrader’s comments are significant because Pelosi has a slim majority of three members to pass legislation in the House. Schrader’s opposition to the entire infrastructure package could aid in tanking Biden’s agenda if Pelosi doesn’t honor her promise and hold a vote on the bipartisan bill.
To ratchet more pressure on Pelosi, Punchbowl News reported Monday the reconciliation package has not completed its House committee obligations, which means it is not ready to join with the bipartisan infrastructure bill for a House vote on September 27.
In August, Pelosi had promised moderate Democrats a House vote for the bipartisan bill September 27, possibly hoping the reconciliation package would be paired with the bipartisan bill. “This is a huge moment for both efforts, as Democrats have been saying for months that one can’t pass without the other,” Punchbowl wrote. “Now Pelosi must now choose whether to move forward on the infrastructure vote without reconciliation.”
Meanwhile, far-left House members have told Pelosi they will not vote for the Senate-approved bipartisan bill without the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package, which encompasses radical items Democrats are still fighting over, including Medicare, Medicaid, and Obamacare funding and tax increases.
A senior Democratic aide told Punchbowl on Friday Biden’s agenda is in “serious” trouble:
There is serious concern among Leadership that there aren’t the votes to pass the infrastructure bill unless reconciliation moves at the same time, which can’t happen unless the Senate moves more expeditiously on pre-conferencing, finishing the Byrd bath process, and concluding talks with [Sens. Joe] Manchin and [Kyrsten] Sinema.
Democrat panic is also elevated by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), who reportedly said Sunday he wants a “strategic pause” to the reconciliation package. Any pause in the legislative process until next year “means reconciliation is dead,” and the bipartisan infrastructure bill is probably dead.
The legislative defeat would hand Biden another failed initiative during his first year in office.
Follow Wendell Husebø on Twitter @WendellHusebø