Bowing to Progressives, Pelosi Says Infrastructure Will Pass Once Dems Agree on Spending Bill

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told House Democrats on Friday that the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill would pass in the chamber after moderates and progressives reach an agreement on President Joe Biden's massive spending package.

Pelosi made the remarks in a letter to members of the Democratic Caucus following a closed-door meeting with Biden, who told reporters that the party would "get this done" after leaving the meeting.

The $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill was set to be voted on this week. It was held up under pressure from progressives, who demanded that the bill be tied to the spending package, also known as the Build Back Better Act. Democrats hope to pass the spending bill using the Senate budget reconciliation process.

"Today, President Biden honored us with his first in-person visit to our Caucus," Pelosi wrote in the letter. "He received a hero's welcome! His presentation on the values of the Biden vision was warmly and enthusiastically received. We look forward to a successful enactment of the Build Back Better Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill."

"While great progress has been made in the negotiations to develop a House, Senate and White House agreement on the Build Back Better Act, more time is needed to complete the task," the California Democrat added. "Clearly, the Bipartisan Infrastructure bill will pass once we have agreement on the reconciliation bill."

Pelosi went on to say that a 30-day extension of funding for surface transportation programs would pass later Friday.

Funding expired Thursday amid heated debate over the infrastructure and spending bills, resulting in 3,700 Department of Transportation employees receiving furlough notices. The surface transportation funding extension passed on an overwhelmingly bipartisan basis shortly after Pelosi issued her letter.

House Democrats expressed confidence in their ability to pass the infrastructure bill and the Build Back Better Act after the meeting with Biden.

The president and Pelosi made concessions to progressives by backing demands to tie the bills together, while progressives indicated that they would compromise on the size of the spending bill, despite having previously insisting on at least $3.5 trillion.

"[Biden] was really clear that we need to get both bills done. And that's what we're gonna do, we're gonna get both bills done," Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said after the meeting with the president. "It's gonna be tough. We're going to have to come down in our number. And we're going to have to do that work. So, we're going to get to work and see what we can get to."

In addition to satisfying progressives in the House, the final version of the spending bill will also need to satisfy moderates in the Senate, where Democrats have no margin for error due to the chamber being evenly divided along party lines.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.), a frequent Senate roadblock to progressive legislation, said this week that his spending limit was $1.5 trillion, although he supported $4 trillion in infrastructure spending earlier in the year.

Newsweek reached out to Manchin's office for comment.

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Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) departs a Democratic caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol October 1, 2021 in Washington, DC. Win McNamee/Getty Images