Pramila Jayapal Warns Dems 'Could Lose the House' if Biden's $3.5T Bill Not Passed

Representative Pramila Jayapal, a Washington Democrat and chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said that it's urgent for her political party to come together to pass President Joe Biden's $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package—warning that Democrats "could lose the House" without its success.

Some moderate Democrats have expressed substantial concerns about the massive spending package. The budget plan has now passed through both chambers of Congress, although an uphill battle remains to determine the details and whether Democrats ultimately succeed in full passage.

The proposed legislation would deliver on significant portions of Biden's agenda by funding universal pre-kindergarten, provide free community college, make child tax credits permanent, expand health care access, and work to address climate change.

"If we deliver these things, I believe we will hold the House. If we don't deliver these things, I think we could lose the House," Jayapal told Punchbowl News in a Wednesday interview.

The top progressive lawmaker explained that everything in the bill is a key part of Biden's agenda, arguing that voters expect Democrats to deliver on their platform.

Pramila Jayapal
Representative Pramila Jayapal, a Washington Democrat and chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said that it's urgent for her political party to come together to pass President Joe Biden's $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package. In this photo, she speaks at Go Bigger on Climate, Care, and Justice! event on July 20 in Washington, D.C. Shannon Finney/Getty Images for Green New Deal Network

Jayapal said there is "absolutely" a sense of urgency among Democratic lawmakers over the possibility of losing control of the House during the 2022 midterms. Historical trends have shown that the party of the president in power generally loses seats in the first midterm election after they take office. With Democrats only holding a slim majority in the House, Republicans would just need to pick up five seats to take back power in the lower chamber of Congress.

Jayapal said that the urgency about 2022 is why "so many of these priorities" included in the reconciliation package are "embraced" by Democrats "across the caucus." The congresswoman downplayed the concerns and objections from moderates to some of the priorities and the high-level of spending.

"This very small group of people, my colleagues, that sort of have gotten a lot of attention in the last couple of days, I just want to remind people that this is the Democratic agenda. This is President Biden's agenda," Jayapal said. "This is the agenda of the Speaker, of the Senate Majority Leader, and—of course—the vast majority of our caucus who wanted to get a [budget] resolution done and want to pass a three-and-a-half trillion dollar bill that invests in these critical priorities and allows people to wake up in the morning and feel differently about their lives and their livelihoods."

A group of nine moderate House Democrats—led by Representative Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey—have raised concerns about the $3.5 trillion budget plan. They initially urged swift passage of the Senate's bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill in the House before considering the significantly larger Biden proposal. However, they reached a deal with Democratic leadership that put a September 27 deadline for a vote on the infrastructure package and agreed to vote to move forward with the budget reconciliation package.

Progressives have insisted that the two packages must be approved together, as they are concerned that moderates could vote for the smaller infrastructure package and then object to the larger bill. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has largely appeared to be on the same page, asserting that the House plans to approve both measures in tandem.

Newsweek reached out to Gottheimer's office for comment, but did not immediately receive a response.