Centrist House Democrats Threaten to Block Budget Resolution Vote: Nine Democrats call for prioritizing vote on bipartisan infrastructure bill, at odds with Pelosi’s timeline

WASHINGTON—A group of centrist House Democrats threatened to block a vote on the $3.5 trillion budget framework approved by the Senate this week until a bipartisan infrastructure bill is passed, highlighting the predicament Democratic leaders face trying to keep dueling factions of the party united around both pieces of legislation. In a letter sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) on Thursday, nine House Democrats said they “will not consider voting for a budget resolution until” the House approves a roughly $1 trillion infrastructure bill passed Tuesday in the Senate and it is signed into law. “With the livelihood of hardworking American families at stake, we simply can’t afford months of unnecessary delays and risk squandering this once-in-a-century, bipartisan infrastructure package,” the lawmakers wrote. NEWSLETTER SIGN-UP Capital Journal Scoops, analysis and insights driving Washington from the WSJ's D.C. bureau. PREVIEW SUBSCRIBE That position puts them squarely at odds with the timeline mapped out by Mrs. Pelosi, who has repeatedly said she wouldn’t bring the infrastructure bill to the House floor until the Senate has passed the broader budget package now being crafted. Mrs. Pelosi’s office didn’t immediately respond to the letter. Democratic leaders have been working to keep both the party’s more moderate and liberal wings assuaged as both bills move through Congress, a difficult task with lawmakers eager to wield their leverage in chambers where Democrats hold slim majorities. Passage of both bills would cement into law the bulk of President Biden’s legislative agenda and vastly expand the country’s safety net, while their collapse due to internal squabbling would mark a crushing loss for Democrats currently in control of Congress and the White House. White House press secretary Jen Psaki expressed confidence in the legislative pathway for the proposals, saying that just as Senate Democrats had come together to advance the two plans, “we are confident that House Democrats will do the same.” “Both are essential, and we are working closely with Speaker Pelosi and the leadership to get both to the president’s desk,” Ms. Psaki said in a statement Friday. In the House, Democrats can afford no more than three defections on legislation opposed by all Republicans, who are expected to unanimously vote against the budget resolution. If the nine Democrats who signed the letter all voted against the budget framework, they could block its passage in the House. The Democrats who signed the letter were Reps. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, Carolyn Bourdeaux of Georgia, Jim Costa of California, Jared Golden of Maine, Ed Case of Hawaii, Kurt Schrader of Oregon and Filemon Vela, Henry Cuellar and Vicente Gonzalez, all of Texas. Mrs. Pelosi’s stance reflects the demands of progressive House Democrats, who have said they wouldn’t vote for the infrastructure bill in the House until the Senate passes a sweeping package of healthcare, education and climate provisions currently being drafted. The Senate approved the $3.5 trillion budget framework for that package early Wednesday morning and the House is expected to vote on the blueprint later this month. Democrats’ Jobs and Infrastructure Plan: What’s Popular, What’s Controversial YOU MAY ALSO LIKE


Democrats’ Jobs and Infrastructure Plan: What’s Popular, What’s Controversial Democrats’ Jobs and Infrastructure Plan: What’s Popular, What’s Controversial Senate Democrats’ $3.5 trillion jobs and infrastructure plan is a sprawling piece of legislation. WSJ's Gerald F. Seib gives a rundown of the handful of provisions that figure to be the most popular, and the ones seen as most controversial. Photo illustration: Todd Johnson Mrs. Pelosi told House Democrats on a call this week that her strategy reflected the reality of trying to pass both pieces of legislation. “This is the consensus,” Mrs. Pelosi said, according to someone familiar with her comments. “The votes in the House and Senate depend on us having both bills.” The Congressional Progressive Caucus said this week that a survey of its 96 members showed that a majority would withhold their support for the infrastructure bill until the Senate has passed the larger budget package. Centrist Democrats are also flexing their muscles in the evenly divided Senate, where Democrats will need the support of every single member of their caucus. Democrats are planning to pass the budget package under a process known as reconciliation, which allows them to advance legislation with just a simple majority, rather than the 60 votes most bills require. Both chambers must pass an identical budget resolution to unlock the reconciliation process, enabling them to pass the larger budget package without GOP support. Once both chambers have passed the budget outlines, Democrats in the House are expected to write and pass their version of the legislation first, according to aides, rather than wait for the Senate to craft the bill. Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona have both expressed concerns over the $3.5 trillion cost of the package. The proposal is set to offer a federal paid-leave benefit, universal prekindergarten, two free years of community college and expanded Medicare to cover hearing, dental and vision care, among other provisions. Democrats have said they also plan to allow Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices and implement a raft of climate proposals, including a series of energy tax incentives and a program to push the U.S. to receive 80% of its electricity from clean sources by 2030. Democrats have said they intend to fully offset the cost of the proposal, but the ways in which they plan to raise revenue are themselves controversial, including increasing taxes on wealthy Americans and corporations. The Democrats' Budget Plan What to know about the Democrats' antipoverty, healthcare and climate plan, which the party's lawmakers hope to pass through the budget process, without needing Republican support. What's In the $3.5 Trillion Plan? EXPLAINER What's In the $3.5 Trillion Plan? What Is Budget Reconciliation, and Why Is It Being Used Now? VIDEO What Is Budget Reconciliation, and Why Is It Being Used Now? How Biden's Tax Proposal Would Affect Investors CAPITAL-GAINS TAX How Biden's Tax Proposal Would Affect Investors What's in Biden's American Families Plan THE ORIGINAL PROPOSAL What's in Biden's American Families Plan Write to Kristina Peterson at kristina.peterson@wsj.com