Politics

Costa joins moderate Dems in deadlock over $3.5tril spending plan

Nine moderate members of the House Democratic Caucus, including Valley Rep. Jim Costa (D–Fresno), tendered a straight-forward threat to Speaker Nancy Pelosi to postpone consideration of a $3.5 trillion budget plan led by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.).

The message, conveyed in a letter to the Speaker, urged Pelosi to opt for expedited consideration of the more modest, bipartisan $1 trillion infrastructure plan led by the Biden administration.

“We will not consider voting for a budget resolution until the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passes the House and is signed into law,” the letter from Democratic moderates reads.

The letter, as first reported by Politico, “quickly escalated tensions across the Democratic caucus, with anxieties already running high about how the tightly divided House will be able to muscle through both of President Joe Biden’s priorities in short order.”

As a result, House Democrats find themselves at an impasse on how to juggle three different spending bills – Biden’s infrastructure plan, the House’s own budget bill, and the Senate-led $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill.

House Democrats currently hold a three-seat majority in the chamber, giving Pelosi no margin for error on an approach for Biden’s top policy priority.

The House is slated to take up own budget resolution before tackling either of the key spending bills from the Senate.

Pelosi can afford to lose only three votes in the House and will need near unanimity among Democrats to pass the budget resolution, which is slated for a vote when the House returns the week of Aug. 23.

The House must pass the budget resolution before Democrats can move ahead with passing a massive $3.5 trillion social spending package using the filibuster protections of reconciliation.

But Pelosi’s other flank, the progressives, have balked at the idea of putting the bipartisan infrastructure bill up for a vote first, warning leadership that they have enough members prepared to vote against the Senate-passed bill to tank it on the floor.

Sunday, Pelosi said she requested the House Rules Committee generate “a rule that advances both the budget resolution and the bipartisan infrastructure package.”

That pitch, a compromise between hardline progressives and the moderates, ties the infrastructure bill to the lower chamber’s budget resolution and keeps it delayed until the Senate approves the $3.5 trillion social spending bill via reconciliation.

That process could take the Senate until deep in the fall to conclude.

Progressive members of the Democratic caucus have similarly grown weary of their moderate colleagues, Fox News reported. They believe that the growing complaints among moderates may be aimed at killing the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill.

With the backing of Pelosi, they’ve created their own stand-off: threatening to block Biden’s infrastructure bill until they receive guarantees from moderates that they will support reconciliation.

Les Hubbard is a contributing reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun.