Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) on Monday flexed her 94-member “Congressional Progressive Caucus” muscle on President Joe Biden’s massive tax and spending proposals.
“A deal is a deal,” Jayapal tweeted about her plan to maintain leverage over the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package. “We’ll proudly pass both bills, but we’ll only vote for the infrastructure package AFTER we get the transformational Build Back Better Act through.”
Jayapal also said the number of Democrat lawmakers joining her in maintaining leverage over Biden’s agenda is growing. “It’s actually increasing, and it’s increasing from members who aren’t just within the Progressive Caucus,” she said about the number of members who will vote “no” on the $1.2 trillion “bipartisan” infrastructure bill.
“I think it’s now probably somewhere around 60,” she added. “They’re members of the [Congressional] Black Caucus, the [Congressional] Hispanic Caucus, the [Congressional] Asian [Pacific American] Caucus, some of whom are not members of the Progressive Caucus, who feel very strongly,” Jayapal said in reference to delivering on the far-left “agenda that the president ran on.”
Jayapal’s position has forced House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to break her signed promise to more temperate Democrats and push the vote for the $1.2 trillion bill from Monday to Thursday. The decision was presumably made to allow more time for Democrats to break their infighting over both the “bipartisan” bill and the reconciliation package.
The $3.5 trillion package, written by self-proclaimed socialist Bernie Sanders (I-VT), is not ready for a House vote, as Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) blocked a key tax provision on proscription drug makers that Sanders believes is needed.
Yet Murphy stated last week she is not the one responsible for the infighting. “The mistrust that exists currently between members will spread to mistrust between leadership and members, and I think that wouldn’t be healthy for our Congress accomplishing Biden’s agenda,” Murphy claimed.
Other House Democrats have taken matters into their own hands. Reps. Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX) and Filemon Vela (D-TX) are negotiating with Jayapal in the press, hoping to entice far-left House members to vote for the “bipartisan” bill with a promise that the $3.5 trillion package will pass the in the future.
“We support swift passage of the president’s $3.5 trillion reconciliation package,” they wrote in a joint statement. “The bipartisan infrastructure framework would, on average, deliver $1.2 billion per congressional district.”
But Jayapal remains unconvinced and unwilling to give up her hard-earned leverage. Monday’s comments suggest she will only vote for the “bipartisan” bill “after” the reconciliation package is enacted into law.
This dilemma has House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) gridlocked while the party is increasingly agitated and “infuriated.”
“The president needs to pick up the phone and call people,” a high ranking Democrat aide told Politico Playbook. “The person argued that the White House has been in ‘listening mode’ for too long and needs to bang heads to get this vote over the finish line this week.”
Follow Wendell Husebø on Twitter @WendellHusebø