Nancy Pelosi Projects Confidence Ahead Of Uncertain Infrastructure Vote

It looks likely that progressive Democrats have the votes to sink the infrastructure bill for now.

WASHINGTON ― Though she stopped short of guaranteeing a vote on Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) projected confidence that the House would soon approve a bipartisan infrastructure bill.

“We’re on a path to win the vote,” Pelosi told reporters. “I don’t want to even consider any other options than that.”

The problem for Pelosi is that many progressive House Democrats have said they would vote against the infrastructure bill if it comes up before a much larger budget bill — the $3.5 trillion Build Back Better package — that includes Democratic priorities such as expanded child care and health benefits for seniors.

But Democrats still haven’t agreed on the broad outlines of the larger bill, with centrist Senate Democrats saying they won’t back the higher taxes or spending proposed by party leaders.

Pelosi has avoided making any definitive statements about what will happen Thursday. Democrats had originally planned to vote on the infrastructure bill, but Pelosi generally avoids putting bills on the House floor if they lack the votes to pass.

Republicans and Democrats in the Senate worked together to pass the infrastructure bill earlier this summer, but Democratic leaders, including President Joe Biden, said they would only enact the legislation if it passed with the much broader social spending bill that Democrats believe could define their legacy for generations. They intend to pass the bigger bill using the special budget reconciliation process that would let them bypass the GOP in the Senate — but given their tiny majorities in both chambers, Democratic leadership needs almost every Democrat on board in order to succeed. The standalone infrastructure bill has been waiting on a House vote since early August.

When a reporter asked if Thursday’s vote would be delayed if it appeared the bill lacked support, Pelosi sidestepped the question. She had noted Wednesday that she had the power to delay the vote if she wanted.

“I do not plan on not doing anything,” she said Thursday. “I plan on moving forward in a positive way.”

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), the top member of Pelosi’s leadership team, said “nope” Thursday when asked if he was confident the infrastructure bill could pass.

One of the progressive lawmakers who has vowed to oppose the infrastructure legislation if it does not accompany the Build Back Better bill, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), told HuffPost Wednesday that her opposition remains bright and clear.

“I have the third poorest congressional district in the country,” she said, describing lead-contaminated water, flooding problems and a dearth of childcare. “These are frontline communities that have been neglected for far too long.”

The Build Back Better Act, at least as party leaders have outlined it, would invest trillions in monthly cash benefits for parents, child care, community college and green infrastructure.

Pelosi said the larger bill would represent “the culmination of my time in Congress,” something that would make it easier for women to join the workforce, something that would be “transformative” for daily life in America.

“It’s so much,” she said. “And that’s why I said that.”