Progressive Democrats warned the House leadership that a majority of their members will withhold their support for a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill until the Senate passes a second, far larger package containing their spending priorities.
The warning came in a letter to the speaker, obtained by The New York Times, in which left-leaning members drew a line in the sand, putting them at odds with moderate Democrats who have been pushing for an immediate, stand-alone vote on the infrastructure bill.
In the letter, leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus said a poll of their 96 members had confirmed a majority would withhold their support for the infrastructure legislation until the Senate passes a $3.5 trillion package with funding for climate programs, health care, education and child care.
Senate Democrats have moved to advance a budget blueprint for the $3.5 trillion in spending, but the actual legislation is unlikely to materialize until the fall, and that is the vote that progressives want to see approved.
Together, the two measures encompass President Biden’s entire economic agenda. The speaker, Nancy Pelosi of California, has repeatedly said she will not take up the bipartisan legislation until the Senate passes the larger spending package, causing some consternation among her moderate members.
“Whatever you can achieve in a bipartisan way — bravo, we salute it,” Ms. Pelosi said on Friday. “But at the same time, we’re not going forward with leaving people behind.”
The letter was signed by the chairwoman of the Progressive Caucus, Representative Pramila Jayapal of Washington, and two of her deputies, Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Representative Katie Porter of California.
In their letter, the three leaders told Ms. Pelosi that a majority of their caucus would commit to withholding their votes until they get what they want in the larger spending package, which would be passed using a legislative maneuver known as “reconciliation” that circumvents the Senate’s filibuster rule. That is a significant tranche of members in a narrowly divided House, where Democrats hold a razor-thin majority.
The letter encouraged Ms. Pelosi to work to ensure “the reconciliation framework reflects our shared and longstanding investment priorities, and that the Senate first adopts this reconciliation package before House consideration of any bipartisan infrastructure legislation.”
A half-dozen moderate House Democrats, in their own letter, urged Ms. Pelosi to give the bipartisan infrastructure package its own vote without linking it to the other package of measures.