Biden Cancels Trip to Rally Dems on Eve of Infrastructure Vote: As It Happened

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Congress is close to running out of time to avoid a government shutdown amid a partisan divide over federal funding and an extension to the debt ceiling.

The Senate was unable to pass a federal funding bill on Monday after it received a 48 to 50 vote with Republicans in opposition. The bill included an extension to the debt ceiling, which Republicans have said they oppose.

If the federal funding bill is not passed by Thursday at midnight, the federal government will face a partial shutdown. The shutdown will mean that federal museums, parks and other nonessential services halt operations until a funding deal is reached.

The last time the government failed to come to an agreement before the deadline was December 2018 to January 2019.

Infrastructure Bill Countdown
Two men sit on the edge of the Capitol Reflecting Pool with the U.S. Capitol building is reflected past them on September 26, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress is heading into the week with the deadline for debt ceiling negotiations approaching and as President Joe Biden said on Friday that the infrastructure bill remains at a stalemate. Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images

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Biden Cancels Trip to Rally Dems on Eve of Infrastructure, Reconciliation Bill Vote

The White House announced that President Joe Biden has postponed his planned Wednesday trip to Chicago so he can stay in Washington D.C. and lobby Democrats to pass $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill and the $3.5 trillion "human infrastructure" reconciliation bill, according to Gary Martin.

Republican Congress members have largely washed their hands of the bills, stating they no longer wish to support them because of their costs.

On the House Democrat side, the progressive caucus has said it won't support the bipartisan, roads-and-bridges infrastructure bill without a clear plan for passing the reconciliation bill. The embattled reconciliation bill would include climate, healthcare and other social spending proposals that progressives largely support.

On the Senate Democrat side, West Virginia Senators Joe Manchin and Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema haven't yet indicated whether they will support the reconciliation bill. While both have complained about its high cost, neither has publicly indicated what they would like to see changes in it.

Democratic Rep. Nikema Williams Says House Progressives Will Be 'Won Over' to Support Bill by Monday

Democratic Georgia Congresswoman Nikema Williams has said she remains confident that progressive House Democrats can be won over to support the bipartisan infrastructure bill by the House's planned Monday vote.

"You should never count Speaker Nancy Pelosi out," Williams said in a Tuesday CNN interview. The CNN interviewer asked her whether progressives could be "won over" by the planned Monday vote.

"I support her long-term vision of advancing reconciliation along with the bipartisan infrastructure bill," Williams continued. "And until we are at that last minute and can't get it done, I'm sticking with my speaker and I know that she is working behind the scenes and continuing to have those conversations to get it done."

Democratic Rep. Pocan Says House Won't Vote on Infrastructure Bill by Thursday as Promised

Democratic Wisconsin Representative Mark Pocan has said he doesn't think that House Democrats will still vote on the infrastructure proposal by Thursday, as the party had originally planned.

"[It] is a little bit misguided [to focus] on the procedure rather than on the product," he said in a Tuesday interview with CNN. He said the vote has been held up by ongoing discussions within his party's Senate counterparts about what the bipartisan bill and adjoining reconciliation proposal should contain.

"What we're waiting for is for a couple people in the Senate to tell us what they're actually for so we can finalize these negotiations," he said. "It's really just a few folks are trying to figure out what they really want, but that doesn't mean there's a fight among us. That doesn't mean we're upset with the speaker."

He dismissed a comment made by Congresswoman Rasheeda Tlaib of Michigan criticizing a recent "betrayal" by Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

While Pelosi had promised that she wouldn't hold a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill until the $3.5 trillion "human infrastructure" reconciliation proposal was ready, Pelosi changed her mind and said she planned to hold a vote on the bill this week.

Tlaib tweeted of her party's progressive caucus on Tuesday, "We will hold the line and vote it down."

Pocan said that Pelosi merely set a date for the vote this week in order to keep negotiations moving along.

"I would not vote for a bill not knowing that we're going to have both of these bills in the form that we need to," Pocan said, "and that's why I don't think there's going to be a vote on Thursday."

GOP Senator John Thune Says GOP Remains Wholly Opposed to Raising Debt Ceiling, Infrastructure Proposal

Republican South Dakota Senator John Thune has said that congressional Republicans remain solidly opposed to raising the debt ceiling and supporting the Democrats' infrastructure proposal. He made his comments on Tuesday during the Senate Republicans' weekly press conference

"Back in July, 46 Republican Senators sent a letter saying we will not help create the biggest expansion of government since the New Deal," Thune said. "$5 Trillion in new spending, we're not going to help you pay for that by raising the debt limit. It's been very clear from the outset."

"[Democrats] have the narrowest of majorities and yet they are trying to do everything at 51 votes," he continued. "With unified control of the government, if they want to do all the spending and all the tax increases with 51 votes, they should do all the borrowing at 51 votes. It is as simple as that."

In a statement issued on Tuesday, Thune wrote, "If Democrats want to pass a massive partisan tax-and-spending bill without any Republican input, they can raise the debt limit without any Republican input."

"The truth is that they don't want to do it by themselves," he added. "Democrats want the credit for their social policies and the government handouts they're planning, but they don't want to own the price tag."

Congressional Democrats intend on trying to pass their "human infrastructure" proposals using the budget reconciliation process. The legislative route would allow Democrats to avoid the 60-vote filibuster and pass legislation through a simple majority vote.

In the Senate, this would translate to all 50 members of the Democratic caucus as well as a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Kamala Harris.

Manchin Criticizes Progressives for Holding Infrastructure Bill 'Hostage'

After meeting at the White House today, Democratic West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin criticized progressive Democrats who have threatened to not support the infrastructure bill unless their funding priorities are met.

"Holding one hostage over the other is not fair. It's not right. It's not good for the country," Manchin said.

"They have a right to do whatever they think — that's a political agenda," Manchin continued. "I'm looking at the needs of our country. My state needs its bridges fixed. It needs its roads. We need internet service, desperately. And this bill, the bipartisan infrastructure bill has everything that our country needs... Let's just do it."

As infrastructure hangs in balance, Sinema attends fundraiser with lobbyists who oppose the bill

With the fate of the multi-trillion dollar infrastructure bill depending on her support, Democratic Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema is reportedly attending a Tuesday afternoon, high-dollar fundraiser.

The event's guest list includes five business lobbying groups, most of which fiercely oppose the bill, The New York Times reported.

The attending lobbying groups include the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors, the National Grocers' Association (NGA), lobbyists for roofers and electrical contractors and a small business group called the S-Corp political action committee (PAC).

The National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors has said of the bill, "Passing the largest tax increase in U.S. history on the backs of America's job creators as they recover from a global pandemic is the last thing Washington should be doing."

S-Corp PAC has said that the infrastructure bill "would kneecap private companies." The NGA said the bill's passage would mean that "grocers and other industries are still going to see a jump in their tax bill."

Attendees at the 45-minute event will be able to donate anywhere from $1,000 to $5,800 each for Sinema's campaign.

Sinema has not yet said whether she will vote for the bill.

Bernie Sanders Says Infrastructure Can't Pass Without $3.5t Reconciliation Bill

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders said on Tuesday that the bipartisan infrastructure bill can't pass without the proposed reconciliation bill, that has a $3.5 trillion price tag.

"No infrastructure bill should pass without a $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill. That is the agreement that was made & that is the agreement that must be kept. Physical infrastructure is important, but the needs of working families & combatting climate change is more important," Sanders wrote in a tweet posted to his personal Twitter account.

No infrastructure bill should pass without a $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill. That is the agreement that was made & that is the agreement that must be kept. Physical infrastructure is important, but the needs of working families & combatting climate change is more important.

— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) September 28, 2021

Sanders made similar remarks in a tweet posted to his Senate Twitter account, writing, "Let's be crystal clear. If the bipartisan infrastructure bill is passed on its own on Thursday, this will be in violation of an agreement that was reached within the Democratic Caucus in Congress."

"More importantly, it will end all leverage that we have to pass a major reconciliation bill. That means there will be no serious effort to address the long-neglected crises facing the working families of our country, the children, the elderly, the sick and the poor," Sanders wrote in a subsequent tweet.

More importantly, it will end all leverage that we have to pass a major reconciliation bill. That means there will be no serious effort to address the long-neglected crises facing the working families of our country, the children, the elderly, the sick and the poor.

— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) September 28, 2021

In addition to Sanders, several other Progressive Democrats have called for both the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the proposed reconciliation bill together.

Joe Manchin Still Won't Say Which Way He'll Vote on Reconciliation Bill

Moderate Democratic Senator Joe Manchin declined to say how he plans to vote on the proposed reconciliation bill after meeting with President Joe Biden at the White House.

Manchin was asked by reporters while leaving the meeting if he made any commitment to Biden on the bill.

"There was no commitments made at all," Manchin said in response. "No commitments from that standpoint. Just good negotiations talking about the needs of our country."

Manchin was also asked if he gave Biden a top-line number for the reconciliation package, to which he responded by saying, "no, they were just good, honest, straightforward negotiations."

NEW: Manchin returns from his meeting w/ Biden, tells us he made “no commitments” to the President on the reconciliation package.

“There was no commitments made at all,” he said when asked about a top-line number. “Just good negotiations, talking about the needs of our country.”

— Julie Tsirkin (@JulieNBCNews) September 28, 2021

Fellow moderate Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema also met with Biden on Tuesday to discuss the reconciliation bill and during a press conference, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that the two had a "constructive" meeting.

"[They] agreed we're at a pivotal moment, need to continue to work to finalize the path forward," Psaki said about Biden's meeting with Sinema.

McConnell Blocks Schumer's Attempt To Fast-Track Debt Ceiling Hike

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked an attempt made by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to fast-track the increase of the debt ceiling.

On Tuesday, Schumer asked the Senate for a unanimous consent to increase the debt ceiling, which would have allowed Democrats to pass it without GOP support.

"Simply allow for a simple majority threshold to raise the debt ceiling and avoid this needless catastrophe that Republicans have steered us toward," Schumer said on the Senate floor.

McConnell rejected the attempt and said, "Democrats will not get bipartisan help borrowing money so they can immediately blow historic sums on a partisan taxing and spending spree."

McConnell continued, "There is no chance, no chance the Republican conference will go out of our way to help Democrats conserve their time and energy so they can resume ramming through partisan socialism as fast as possible."

The decision by McConnell comes shortly after Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that "We now estimate that Treasury is likely to exhaust its extraordinary measures if Congress has not acted to raise or suspend the debt limit by October 18."

Chuck Schumer
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer asked the Senate for a unanimous consent vote on raising the debt ceiling but the attempt was rejected by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Above, Schumer, with Democratic Senators (L-R) Patty Murray, Debbie Stabenow and Dick Durbin, speaks to reporters after the Democratic policy luncheon at the US Capitol in Washington, DC on September 28, 2021. Mandel Ngan/Getty

Blue Dog Dems Dig In On Infrastructure as Progressives Threaten to Torpedo Bill

Several members of the moderate Democratic Blue Dog Coalition have shown support for the bipartisan infrastructure bill, while Progressives have threatened to oppose it if it is not passed with the proposed reconciliation bill.

"I urge all of my colleagues — on both sides of the aisle — to come together and pass the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, and put 2 million men and women of labor to work every year for the next decade," Rep. Josh Gottheimer, a member of the Blue Dog Coalition wrote in a tweet on Tuesday.

Gottheimer made similar comments while speaking on the House floor, saying, "We need to get everyone on board this week, Democrats and Republicans, because this bill is simply too important to our country and our future."

I urge all of my colleagues — on both sides of the aisle — to come together and pass the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, and put 2 million men and women of labor to work every year for the next decade.

— Rep Josh Gottheimer (@RepJoshG) September 28, 2021

Several other members of the Blue Dog Coalition, including Reps. Carolyn Bourdeaux, Ed Case, Jim Costa, Henry Cuellar, Jared Golden, Vicente Gonzalez and Kurt Schrader, issued a statement on Monday, saying that the bipartisan infrastructure bill "is a huge win for the American people, and one we have profoundly worked on for months with our House and Senate Colleagues from both parties."

The statement continued, "The American people have waited long enough for the jobs and investment this bill will deliver. It's time to send the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill to the President's Desk for his signature."

Congress is closer than ever to passing the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. I am working with my colleagues to get these bold, historic investments to the President’s desk and signed into law this week to deliver for #OR05 and for America.

— Rep. Kurt Schrader (@RepSchrader) September 28, 2021

While members of the moderate Blue Dog Coalition have thrown support for the bipartisan infrastructure bill, Progressive Democrats have recently expressed opposition to passing the bill without also passing the reconciliation bill.

Josh Gottheimer
Rep. Josh Gottheimer, a member of the moderate Democratic Blue Dog Coalition, expressed support for passing the proposed bipartisan infrastructure bill on Tuesday, September 28, 2021. Above, Gottheimer (D-NJ) speaks to reporters outside of the House Chambers of the U.S. Capitol on September 23, 2021 in Washington, DC. Anna Moneymaker/Getty

Psaki Says Biden Is Committed To Passing Both Infrastructure, Reconciliation Bills

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Tuesday that President Joe Biden is "committed" to passing both the proposed bipartisan infrastructure and the reconciliation bills.

"Let me be clear, the president is committed to getting both pieces of legislation and across the finish line," Psaki said. "As is [House] Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi, as is [Senate Majority] Leader [Chuck] Schumer. We are working in lockstep to get both of those pieces of legislation done."

Psaki continued, "One is absolutely not getting dropped. Anyone who thinks that, that's not true or accurate. We certainly trust the Speaker, we trust Leader Schumer, and the president is playing his role on getting these pieces across the finish line."

Psaki's comments come as Progressive Democrats have threatened to vote against the bipartisan infrastructure proposal if it is not passed with the reconciliation bill.

"Progressives will vote for both bills, but a majority of our members will only vote for the infrastructure bill after the President's visionary Build Back Better Act passes," the Congressional Progressive Caucus said in a statement on Tuesday.

Progressives Back AOC's All Or Nothing Strategy On Infrastructure, Reconciliation

Progressive Democrats have expressed support for Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's all or nothing strategy in passing the proposed infrastructure and reconciliation bill together.

Ocasio-Cortez said on Tuesday that she'd vote "no" for the proposed bipartisan infrastructure package, unless she received "some new information here."

Shortly after her comments, many fellow Progressive Reps. followed her lead in urging Congress to pass both the infrastructure and reconciliation bills together as a package.

"If we don't pass Build Back Better before infrastructure, we're never going to pass it," Progressive Rep. Ilhan Omar tweeted on Tuesday. "That means no child care, no green jobs, no drug price reform, no Medicare expansion. That's why @USProgressives is standing strong on delivering the President's full agenda to his desk!"

Congressman Chuy García made similar comments while speaking to CNN's Manu Raju, saying "The concern is that it is quite possible that if we call the smaller infrastructure bill and pass it, that we could be hung out to dry by not passing the larger reconciliation bill - the one that has all the good things"

García then responded to Raju's tweet saying, "I've been clear from the start, these bills move together or they don't move at all."

I’ve been clear from the start, these bills move together or they don’t move at all.

— Congressman Chuy García (@RepChuyGarcia) September 28, 2021

The Congressional Progressive Caucus, which is chaired by Rep. Pramila Jayapal, released a similar statement, saying "We articulated this position more than three months ago, and today it is still unchanged: progressives will vote for both bills, but a majority of our members will only vote for the infrastructure bill after the President's visionary Build Back Better Act passes."

We just wrapped a meeting of our 96-member Caucus, and we are clear: our position on infrastructure and Build Back Better remains unchanged.

We will not leave anyone behind.

— Progressive Caucus (@USProgressives) September 28, 2021
Ilhan Omar
Rep. Ilhan Omar and other Progressive Democrats have backed AOC's all or nothing strategy in passing both the infrastructure bill and Biden's Build Back Better Act together. Above, Omar (D-MN) listens during a news conference on the treatment of Haitian immigrants at the U.S. border in Texas on September 22, 2021 in Washington, DC. Anna Moneymaker/Getty

Jack Bergman Pleads With GOP Colleagues To Vote Against Infrastructure Bill

While speaking on the House floor on Tuesday, Michigan Republican Rep. Jack Bergman urged his fellow GOP colleagues to vote against the proposed $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill.

"I want to expose for my constituents the real truth about the so-called infrastructure portion of the Democrats' destructive $5.5 trillion package. You can read for yourself in the bill that only a fraction of the funds go to roads, bridges, broadband and other things people outside the swamp would generally consider infrastructure," Bergman said. "More importantly, I'm asking you to read between the lines to understand that this package will stretch the long intrusive arm of the federal government into your life, more than ever before."

He continued, "Your energy bills, your taxes, your job, your nation's borders, your economic freedom. As your representative I can't let this happen and I urge my colleagues to oppose this bill."

AOC Leads Progressive Revolt As Biden Presses Manchin on Infrastructure Vote

Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said on Tuesday that she plans to vote against a proposed bipartisan infrastructure bill, while President Joe Biden continues to seek support for the bill from moderate Senators like Joe Manchin.

While speaking to reporters, Ocasio-Cortez said that she'd vote "no" on the infrastructure bill, adding that she needs "new information," on the bill to change her mind.

However, the Associated Press reported on Tuesday, that Biden was expected to meet with Manchin and fellow moderate Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema to discuss the proposed infrastructure deal.

Both Manchin and Sinema have previously spoke out in opposition of the infrastructure bill, due to the reconciliation provision that will use a simple majority in the Senate to pass.

During an interview with Politico earlier this week, Manchin said that "there is no timeline," for passing the infrastructure bill, placing pressure on Biden.

Steny Hoyer Assures Government Will Stay Funded, 'We'll Get It Done'

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said on Tuesday that Congress will pass a federal funding bill that will avoid a partial government shutdown.

"We're talking to the Senate about that now. We need to move forward. We need to fund the government, so we're talking about right now, and we'll get it done," Hoyer said while on a call with reporters.

Hoyer also spoke about the proposed reconciliation bill, saying that Democrats will need support from moderate Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema.

"They're both very important because we need every single senator," Hoyer said during the call. "We don't want to pass a bill that can't pass the Senate."

Congress has until midnight on Thursday to pass a federal funding bill to avoid a partial government shutdown.

Chuck Schumer Will Ask Senate For Unanimous Consent On Debt Ceiling Increase

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Tuesday that he plans to ask the Senate for unanimous consent on increasing the debt ceiling.

"I will ask unanimous consent for the Senate to hold a vote to increase the debt limit at a majority threshold," Schumer said, according to The Hill. "It would be very similar to the process that Leader [Mitch] McConnell cited yesterday favorably which allowed for the debt limit to be increased without the minority party providing any of the votes needed to do so."

Schumer continued, "If the Republicans really want to see the debt ceiling raised without providing a single vote, I'm prepared to hold that vote. I can't imagine the Republican leader would object to his own request."

Schumer's comments come a day after Senate Republicans opposed a federal funding bill that included an extension to the debt ceiling. After the bill was blocked by Republicans, Schumer changed his vote from "yes" to "no" in order bring the bill up again at a later time.

"The Republican Party has solidified itself as the party of default, and it will be the American people who pay the price," Schumer said following the vote on Monday.

Chuck Schumer
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said that he plans to ask the Senate on Tuesday for unanimous consent on raising the debt ceiling. Above, Schumer (D-NY) arrives at the U.S. Capitol on September 27, 2021 in Washington, DC. Kevin Dietsch/Getty

Hakeem Jeffries Blames Need for Debt Ceiling Increase on Donald Trump

House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries said on Tuesday that the proposed debt ceiling increase will help to pay debt created by former President Donald Trump.

"97 percent of the debt and the ceiling that we have to raise or deal with in some other way, relates to Donald Trump's bills," Jeffries said during a House Democratic leaders press conference. "Only 3 percent relates to anything having to do with Joe Biden's presidency."

He continued, "I think the American people deserve some transparency as it relates to what actually is going on with the debt ceiling."

During the news conference, Jeffries also criticized Republicans for voting against the federal funding bill that would avoid a possible government shutdown, calling it the "height of irresponsibility."

Every single Republican in the House and Senate has voted to shutdown the government.

— Hakeem Jeffries (@RepJeffries) September 28, 2021

Steve Scalise Calls Proposed Infrastructure Bill 'Radical Socialist Spending'

During a House Republican leadership conference on Tuesday, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise compared the infrastructure bill proposed by Democrats to "radical socialist spending."

"We are fighting against all of this radical socialist spending and these new taxes that are going to hurt families in America," Scalise said.

Scalise also criticized the tax increases that would be included in the bill, saying that they would affect low income families the most.

"The package that Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi is still trying to bring to the floor this week would be over five and half trillion dollars in new taxes in spending, much of it added straight to the deficit," Scalise said. "All under the name of leveling the playing field. Tell that to hard working families who are already paying too much in taxes."