Along with the infrastructure bill, Democratic leadership is also hoping to push through the $3.5 trillion social spending package this week, in part to retain the support of progressives who might otherwise not vote for the infrastructure bill.
While Pelosi said 95 percent of Democrats agree on Biden’s Build Back Better agenda, host George Stephanopoulos pointed out that Democrats need 98 or 99 percent agreement to pass the bills. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (R-Wash), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said last week that more than 50 members of her caucus plan to vote no on the infrastructure bill is there isn’t first agreement on the social investment bill; speaking Sunday morning on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Jayapal again called for the social-spending package to be resolved before the infrastructure bill is voted on.
Pelosi agreed that to get the necessary votes there would have to be further changes to the social spending bill passed by the House Budget Committee on Saturday. The spending package faces opposition in the Senate not only from Republicans, but also Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, who have voiced reservations to the $3.5 trillion price tag.
Pelosi said it “seems self-evident” that the final number will end up being smaller than $3.5 trillion, but that Democrats are “ready” to negotiate and come to a consensus.
“Obviously, with negotiation, there will have to be some changes in [the $3.5 trillion price tag] — the sooner the better so that we can build our consensus to go forward,” Pelosi said.
Adding to the complications is the possibility of a government shutdown.
While Pelosi expressed confidence that the government would stay open, Republicans have said they will not provide any votes to avoid default.
“Isn’t that irresponsible beyond words?” Pelosi asked, pointing out that Democrats cooperated three times during the Trump presidency to lift the debt ceiling. “Who said it more articulately than Mitch McConnell at the time: ‘You cannot play Russian roulette with the debt ceiling and well-being of our economy,'” she said, quoting the current Senate minority leader.