Speaker Nancy Pelosi isn’t backing off her plan to hold up a bipartisan infrastructure package until the Senate delivers a larger, Democratic-only plan expected later this year, prompting a rebuke from Senate Republicans.
Pelosi said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” she was “enthusiastic” about the $579 billion bipartisan package and hopes the Senate passes it. Her comments came just as bipartisan negotiators were trying wrap up the final details on their plan, which could be announced as early as Monday.
But Pelosi warned, “I won’t put it on the floor until we have the rest of the initiative.”
Democrats are still working on the details of a follow-on, $3.5 trillion package of social spending and taxes over a decade on top of the $579 billion infrastructure deal, and many want to ensure both packages become law.
“We are rooting for the infrastructure bill to pass, but we all know that more needs to be done,” she said.
Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, a top Republican negotiator on the bipartisan deal, warned Pelosi’s plan could threaten the deal.
“What she has just said is entirely counter to what President Biden has committed to, and what the Senate is doing, which is a two-track process,” he said. “The infrastructure bill has nothing to do with the reckless tax-and-spend extravaganza she’s talking about.”
Pressed on whether that could mean Congress ends up with nothing, Portman said, “If she has her way, we could.”
Portman said the bipartisan negotiators are close to a deal, with a dispute with Democrats over the level of transit funding the last sticking point.
“I feel good about getting that done this week,” he said, adding talks are continuing Sunday.
Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, one of the Democratic negotiators, said on “Fox New Sunday” he expects a bipartisan deal to be ready to go Monday afternoon, when the Senate is likely to take another test vote to start debating the legislation.
Some Republicans have insisted the bipartisan deal and the larger Democratic package not be linked, and Biden walked back an earlier threat not to sign one without the other after a Republican uproar.
In the 50-50 Senate, 10 Republicans will need to back the bipartisan package to stop a filibuster. The Democratic-only plan will be protected from filibusters and can pass with a simple majority once they first agree on a budget blueprint, which Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer plans to bring to the Senate floor before the August recess.
Pelosi, meanwhile, separately said Democrats wouldn’t allow a debt default with the expiration of a debt limit suspension.
“The full faith and credit of the United States is never to be placed in doubt, it is in the Constitution, and it will be respected,” she said. “Let there be no question, we will address the debt limit.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell last week suggested Democrats pass a debt limit hike on their own without any Republican votes.
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