Biden's agenda and infrastructure bills stalled in Washington

Speaker of the House Pelosi says votes on both will be held on Friday night amid questions of support

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said on Friday that there will be a vote on two major facets of US President Joe Biden's agenda amid power struggles within the Democrat party and growing pressure to reach a deal.

The Democratic representative from California said a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill and a rule plan on a $1.9tn economic package — called Build Back Better, which includes investments in social services and the fight against climate change — will be put on the floor on Friday evening.

Democrats are facing pressure to achieve progress as the governing party in Washington after an election day that was seen as a disappointment for the party. It also wants to have something to show against Republicans in the 2022 midterm elections.

Ms Pelosi, however, faces challenges from the moderate and progressive wings of the party over the bills. The infrastructure bill is highly popular and likely to be passed, but the progressive caucus has insisted that it be passed alongside the other package.

“Welcome to my world. This is the Democratic Party,” Ms Pelosi told reporters. “We are not a lockstep party.”

There have been weeks of negotiations over the Build Back Better Act as moderate members asked for adjustments to the overall cost and the inclusion of paid leave and lower prescription drug prices, which were both removed.

The most recent ask from moderates was for a cost estimate on the plan from the Congressional Budget Office, which can take up to two weeks, delaying a vote on the full bill. Progressives said they are willing to wait so both bills can move in unison.

“If our six colleagues still want to wait for a [Congressional Budget Office] score, we would agree to give them that time — after which point, we can vote on both bills together,” Pramila Jayapal, a Washington representative, said.

Mr Biden has been making calls to representatives throughout the day.

“I’m asking every House member, member of the House of Representatives, to vote yes on both these bills right now,” he said.

Updated: November 5th 2021, 11:01 PM
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