Members of the Problem Solvers Caucus (PSC) in the House, a bipartisan group of moderates, have long opposed linking the Senate-passed infrastructure bill with the Democratic $3.5 trillion budget. Now, as the time for a vote on these bills is only days away, these moderates are keeping up that pressure.
A Democratic coalition of nine PSC members made headlines in August after they publicly released a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) warning her against bundling the two bills and encouraging swift passage of the infrastructure bill by the House.
In the letter, they called the infrastructure bill “a bipartisan victory for our nation” and swore that they would “not consider voting for a budget resolution until the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passes the House and is signed into law.”
After several failed efforts to force the coalition of PSC members to relent, Pelosi made an eleventh-hour deal with the nine. Under this agreement, the nine Democrats agreed to vote to advance the $3.5 trillion budget bill to committee for drafting in exchange for a Sept. 27 deadline to vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill.
On Monday, Pelosi suddenly delayed the vote until Thursday, a move that moderate PSC leaders Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) discussed in joint interviews Monday morning.
Gottheimer Calls Budget ‘Important,’ But Demands Separate Vote on Infrastructure Bill
Gottheimer was asked his opinion of the move during an MSNBC interview. Despite the delay, Gottheimer was optimistic.
“We’re bringing it to the floor today to begin debate, so it’s a huge win,” Gottheimer explained. He added nonchalantly, “We’re gonna vote on Thursday as opposed to today.”
“As far as I’m concerned, all this is a great win for the American people,” Gottheimer judged.
“We’ve gotta get this [vote on the infrastructure bill] done,” he emphasized. Gottheimer indicated that he felt good about the bill’s prospects, noting that it had passed the Senate with 69 votes and that “it has Democrats and Republicans behind it.”
Gottheimer said that the bill “is gonna come to the floor this week, we’re gonna get a vote on it, and it’s gonna pass.”
The interviewer then referenced ongoing divisions within the Democratic caucus between moderates and progressives. Progressives have demanded that the budget and infrastructure bills be bundled, indicating that they don’t trust moderates to pass the budget bill if the infrastructure bill is passed beforehand.
Gottheimer explained moderate intentions to vote for both bills, despite the concerns of progressives. “I strongly disagree [that moderates will vote against the budget,” he said. “We’re making great progress on reconciliation,” he noted, adding that “every Democrat I’ve talked to recognizes how important it is to get [the budget bill] done.”
Despite his enthusiasm for the budget bill, Gottheimer said that “these are two separate bills,” and again emphasized the importance of voting on the infrastructure bill on its own. “Of course we’re gonna get reconciliation done, that’s so important,” he concluded, “but that doesn’t mean you stop voting on one … when you’ve got millions of jobs on the line.”
In an interview with Fox News, Gottheimer dismissed threats from progressives, ruling “I don’t believe any faction of the Democratic Party is going to vote against the president’s key legislative priority.”
Linking Bills is ‘One-Party Rule’: Fitzpatrick
PSC’s Republican Co-chair, Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) has been outspoken in his support of the infrastructure bill even as Republican leadership asked members to vote against the bill.
Still, like Gottheimer, Fitzpatrick emphasized the importance of voting on the two bills separately.
“The linkage/de-linkage thing has been so outcome determinate upon so many votes on the GOP side,” said Fitzpatrick. He added that the situation “is very frustrating.”
“Every day that’s passed since the Senate passed this, we’re losing GOP support,” he explained, continuing “We don’t know on what planet it’s okay to take a bill that both Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer support … and yet we can’t get a vote on it because it’s being held hostage for the second package.”
“I think it’s a very dishonest way of legislating,” he ruled. If the budget is worth passing, Fitzpatrick said, “it should survive on its own merits.”
He concluded, “GOP support is gonna depend largely on the linkage/de-linkage issue,” noting that Republicans “are not in favor of” the budget bill.
“We do not want [the infrastructure bill] linked in any way, shape, or form to reconciliation,” Fitzpatrick added.
He concluded: “The [PSC], including Republican members, believe in two-party solutions. We do not believe in one-party solutions. This is a one-party solution that’s being advanced.”
On Wednesday, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) said that “Speaker Pelosi has made it clear that the Senate infrastructure bill is now inextricably linked to her extremist, socialist $3.5 trillion tax and spend bill.” Because of this, he asked members of the party to vote against the bill.
September 27, 2021 6:37 pm