House panel slated to advance massive bill Saturday as liberals and moderates continue negotiating
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House panel slated to advance massive bill Saturday as liberals and moderates continue negotiating

House Democrats scheduled a rare Saturday meeting to advance their proposed $3.5 trillion package, setting up a key procedural vote while they struggle to pass President Joe Biden’s economic agenda.

The House Budget Committee is expected to vote on the individual components of the massive tax and spending bill, which would expand education, health care and childcare support, address the climate crisis and make further investments in infrastructure.

But the legislation has raised concerns among moderates who worry some of the measures, including on drug pricing and climate, go too far, as progressives say they’ve already compromised enough. Republicans are united in their opposition to it.

The House Budget committee cannot change what the other committees have already voted to approve, but the vote is a necessary step for the bill to go to the House Rules Committee or to the floor, where it can be amended.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is trying to pass a separate, bipartisan, roughly $1 trillion infrastructure bill on Monday, a month after it passed the Senate. But progressives are pushing for the Democratic caucus to first finish writing the $3.5 trillion measure, which could shrink due to the moderates’ wishes. President Joe Biden said on Friday that negotiations on Capitol Hill had reached a “stalemate.”

Washington state Rep. Pramila Jayapal, the leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told CNN that at least 50 of her members will vote to sink the infrastructure bill if it goes forward Monday. She added that taking some steps to move ahead on the bill to greatly expand the social safety net plan is “not enough.”

“I don’t think the speaker is going to bring a bill to the floor that’s going to fail,” Jayapal said. “What we need is to take the temperature down a little bit …. The vote is going to drive up tensions not drive down tensions.”

But moderate Democrats met with House Democratic leaders in Pelosi’s office on Friday afternoon, and afterward they said they expected the vote on the Senate’s infrastructure bill to happen on Monday.

“I’m bringing the bill to the floor on Monday,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told CNN.

Hoyer also said Pelosi is “working towards” getting the party’s economic bill on the floor by next week, even as there are major differences within their party to resolve. “Both bills are going to pass,” he said.

New Jersey Rep. Josh Gottheimer, a lead moderate negotiator, would not say if he would vote against the $3.5 trillion measure if the infrastructure bill doesn’t get a vote on Monday as promised.

“I’m not going to answer that,” he said. “I’ve got work to do and we have more work to do all weekend.”

Democrats are scrambling to strike a deal while facing a series of deadlines this fall. Congress must also pass legislation by September 30 to fund the federal government and by mid-October to raise the debt ceiling in order to pay the country’s bills.

Senate Democrats want to pass a bill next week addressing both of those issues on a bipartisan basis. But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has told them that if they want to pass new legislation costing trillions of dollars, they should raise the debt ceiling on their own.

The-CNN-Wire
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