House Democratic leaders told members of their caucus on Tuesday that they plan to press ahead with a vote advancing a $3.5 trillion budget blueprint next week, disregarding warnings from moderate Democrats who said they will oppose that legislation without first voting on a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill.

The House is set to return to Washington in the middle of a scheduled August recess in part to advance the budget, after the Senate passed both the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the budget plan earlier this month.

The budget resolution would allow Democrats to craft a subsequent economic package with funding for health care, child care and education provisions and tax increases on wealthy corporations and people, without fear of a Republican filibuster. But in a statement on Sunday, nine moderate Democrats remained adamant that “we simply can’t afford any delays,” saying they first wanted a vote on the bipartisan deal.

But liberal lawmakers have repeatedly emphasized that their support for the $1 trillion bipartisan deal is contingent on passage of the final social policy package, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi has publicly said she will wait to take up the bipartisan bill until the far more expansive package clears the Senate. That package is not expected to be finalized until the fall, provided the House approves the budget blueprint.

Should all nine moderates — a group that includes Representatives Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, Jared Golden of Maine and Henry Cuellar of Texas — vote against the budget blueprint, it will fail, given that all Republicans are expected to oppose the package. Despite just a three-vote margin, Ms. Pelosi has shown little willingness to change her plans, telling her top deputies privately on Monday that “this is no time for amateur hour,” according to a person familiar with the comments, which were first reported by Politico.

“For the first time America’s children have leverage — I will not surrender that leverage,” she added. “There is no way we can pass those bills unless we do so in the order that we originally planned.”

In a private call on Tuesday, she again insisted that “we must build consensus,” according to a person on the call who disclosed the comments on condition of anonymity. She has instead proposed a procedural move that could allow the House to advance both the budget blueprint and the bipartisan infrastructure bill on Monday with one vote.

“I know that we have some arguments about who goes first, and the fact of the matter is that we will be doing all of the above,” Representative Steny H. Hoyer, Democrat of Maryland and the majority leader, told Democrats, according to a person on the call, who disclosed the comments on condition of anonymity. “Remember the psychology of consensus.”

The administration threw its support behind the procedural maneuver, with Andrew Bates, a White House spokesman issuing a statement that in part expressed “hope that every Democratic member supports this effort to advance these important legislative actions.”

In a letter to Democrats, Representative Peter DeFazio of Oregon, the chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, who has publicly vented about his frustration with the Senate legislation, framed a vote in support of the budget document as a chance to preserve the House’s say in what could be the largest expansion of social programs since the Great Society of the 1960s.

“The Senate has had unilateral control over the infrastructure bill — if we want House priorities to be considered, we cannot let the same thing happen in reconciliation,” Mr. DeFazio wrote. “But giving the House a voice requires all members of the House Democratic Caucus to work together and take the first step — enacting a budget resolution.”

Source: NYT

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