Moderate House Dems Threaten To Derail Pelosi's $3.5 Trillion Budget Plan

Progressive and moderate Democrats at odds on spending package

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi /Getty Images)
August 13, 2021

A crew of moderate House Democrats said it will withhold support for Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D., Calif.) massive budget resolution, setting the stage for a standoff between the caucus's moderate and progressive wings.

The nine Democrats, led by Rep. Josh Gottheimer (N.J.), sent a letter on Thursday to Pelosi saying they won't vote on the speaker's $3.5 trillion budget resolution until Congress passes the smaller bipartisan infrastructure bill that the Senate approved this week.

"Some have suggested that we hold off on considering the Senate infrastructure bill for months," the lawmakers wrote. "We disagree. ... We will not consider voting for a budget resolution until the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passes the House and is signed into law."

The moderates' stance pits them against the House's progressive caucus and threatens to wreck Pelosi's plans to pass both bills. This week, leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus told Pelosi a majority of their members would not vote for the $1 trillion bipartisan bill until the Senate passes the $3.5 trillion package through the reconciliation process. Pelosi took the side of the progressives, making House passage of the bipartisan bill contingent on the success of the $3.5 trillion package.

"Whatever you can achieve in a bipartisan way—bravo, we salute it," Pelosi said of the infrastructure bill. "But at the same time, we're not going forward with leaving people behind."

The House faces a deadlock in progress on the bills if both sides stick to their guns. With a narrow Democratic majority in the House, Pelosi can only afford to lose three votes in order to pass the budget resolution, which the House plans to vote on after it returns from recess on Aug. 23.

The Senate on Wednesday passed a blueprint of the $3.5 trillion bill, a first step in the reconciliation process. The spending package allocates funds toward a host of liberal social policy interests, including major investments addressing health care, child care, climate change, and public housing.