WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told lawmakers Sunday that she had asked a House committee to advance both a $1 trillion infrastructure plan and a $3.5 trillion spending package together, an apparent effort to patch up divisions that had threatened to stall President Joe Biden’s legislative priorities.
The U.S. Senate approved both the infrastructure legislation and the outline of a separate plan loaded with investments in new domestic programs. But the combined price tag of the two measures created fissures between the progressive and moderate wings of the Democratic Party, which controls both chambers of Congress by narrow margins.
Nine moderate Democrats said last week that they would not support the $3.5 trillion budget resolution until the infrastructure bill, which cleared the Senate with bipartisan support, becomes law. Progressive lawmakers had said the spending plan must go first, though it likely will not be complete until fall. Either faction could stall both packages.
Pelosi on Sunday suggested tying the two together in a letter to House Democrats, writing that “I have requested that the Rules Committee explore the possibility of a rule that advances both the budget resolution and the bipartisan infrastructure package.”
The nine moderate lawmakers said in a joint statement late Sunday in response to Pelosi’s statement “our view remains consistent. We should vote first on the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework without delay and then move to immediate consideration of the budget.”
The House is due to take up the budget resolution when it returns from summer break on Aug. 23. Approving it would clear the way for lawmakers to pass legislation that will fund top priorities ranging from climate change to universal preschool using a process called reconciliation that would forestall a Republican filibuster.
Pelosi’s letter said her approach “will put us on a path to advance the infrastructure bill and the reconciliation bill.”