In a sign of a surprising disconnect between President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the commander in chief on Monday expressed uncertainty about the likelihood that – despite his colleague’s assurances to the contrary – the massive two-tiered spending agenda their party has been championing would be passed by week’s end, as Breitbart reports.
Speaking to reporters while receiving a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot, Biden seemed somewhat uncertain about the fate of this substantial portion of his legislative agenda, saying, “Well, it may not be by the end of the week. I hope it’s by the end of the week.”
The president’s take was seemingly at odds with Pelosi’s definitive statements asserting that this is indeed the week in which the $3.5 trillion social spending reconciliation bill, Biden’s $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill, and a continuing resolution to keep the government funded must all pass.
Despite her outward bluster, Pelosi is contending with a host of internecine battles that have threatened to doom Biden’s priorities and force the speaker to court potential Republican defectors to lend support for the smaller of the two spending bills.
Members of the progressive wing of the Democrat party have been strong in their demand that the larger of the spending bills – the one they planned to pass without any GOP support – come to a vote and be passed before the smaller infrastructure bill was considered, even threatening to withhold their support for the latter if Pelosi did not agree.
While the speaker had initially acceded to their insistence, on Monday night, Pelosi reversed course, and said that given all of the legislative emergencies that are converging at once, she can no longer put the reconciliation bill ahead of the bipartisan infrastructure bill, a development which has created a feeling of real suspense on Capitol Hill.
As NBC News reported, during a private meeting with her caucus, Pelosi explained that because the situation is extremely dynamic in nature, it is necessary for the party to “make difficult choices,” adding, “We had to accommodate the changes that were being necessitated. And we cannot be ready to say until the Senate passed the bill we can’t to [the bipartisan infrastructure bill].”
In response, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), a leading member of the progressive wing of the party, held firm to her group’s prior pledge to vote against the infrastructure bill if no agreement is reached regarding the reconciliation package, telling MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, “It can’t be a pinky prormise…it’s got to be an actual bill that is written, the legislative text is written, the numbers are agreed to, everything is agreed to.”
With a House vote on the infrastructure bill set for Thursday, it remains to be seen whether the far-left wing of Pelosi’s party will indeed deal a serious blow to Biden’s agenda, or whether the the speaker will twist enough arms to prove the president wrong for ever doubting her timeline.