Pelosi faces a problem when creating the Biden infrastructure invoice

Before, Democrats could afford to lose just five votes, but as of next week they can only lose two and still pass laws without Republican support. While that number is expected to rise if vacancies are filled all summer, the majority of the Democratic House will remain wafer-thin.

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As the House begins drafting Biden’s $ 2 trillion infrastructure bill, Pelosi, D-Calif. And her executive team must balance intermittent demands from the liberal and moderate wings of their caucus on spending on things like highways. Bridges, climate change and care for the elderly. It is probably a more difficult task than unifying its members on a bill that aims to wreak havoc from a pandemic that killed more than 550,000 Americans. And with just a few votes, even a handful of dissenters could turn the party’s plans upside down or force leaders to scale back their ambitions.

Pelosi supporters said she has the track record and skills to steer the party’s legislative priorities in the coming months through tight political constraints. They note that as a speaker, she helped put laws like the Affordable Care Act and the Dodd-Frank Banking Act into place during the Obama administration and Biden’s $ 1.9 trillion stimulus plan earlier this year.

“She tried and battle tested. I really want to warn you not to underestimate Nancy Pelosi’s abilities, ”said former Congressman Joseph Crowley (DN.Y.), a former member of the Pelosi leadership team, which is based at Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (DN. Y.) lost. ) in 2018.

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But signs of the problems Pelosi might face with their narrow majority are already surfacing.

A group of eight Democrats, mostly representing northeastern districts, recently said they would vote against tax increases. Biden has proposed paying for his infrastructure proposal unless a state and local tax deduction cap (SALT) included in President Donald Trump’s 2017 tax cut bill is lifted. During a press conference last week, Pelosi said she was “sympathetic” with the group’s position as a representative of California, a state that has also strongly felt the impact of the SALT determination and remains confident that the issue can be addressed. She also made it clear that she did not want members to publicly express their concerns.

“I would withhold any comment on whether or not you are voting on a bill until you see what the bill is,” she said.

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Meanwhile, some Liberal members, including Ocasio-Cortez, have stated that Biden’s infrastructure package, which addresses a number of political issues, needs to be more ambitious.

“That is nowhere near enough,” she wrote on Twitter.

Speakers usually work by a much larger majority than their Senate counterparts, which gives them more control over the legislation that goes through the House. But Pelosi is now in a position not far from Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (DN.Y.), who oversees an evenly divided Senate, with Vice President Harris cast the casting vote, and individual Senators like the moderators Joe Manchin III (DW.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) can bring the legislation to a standstill.

While Pelosi could afford, during her previous tenure as spokesperson, to have a sizeable group of her members vote against democratic priorities that gave her political headaches, she doesn’t have that luxury now.

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The devil of what could spark tension within the caucus will be in the details soon to be worked out by the committees overseeing aspects of Biden’s infrastructure proposal.

Liberals and moderates will delve into the details of the legislation on their return from break next week, and both groups have been optimistic so far to come up with a package containing a number of high-priority strategies.

Senior Democratic advisors also expressed confidence that internal divisions can be worked out, arguing that the infrastructure proposal, like the Coronavirus Relief Act, is popular with the public and provides an incentive for action rather than opposition.

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“Nobody wants to prevent popular bills from being included in the campaign,” said an aide who, like others, spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss internal deliberations.

Pelosi’s office was equally confident.

“The unifying factor for House Democrats is a shared mission to meet the needs of hard-working families,” Pelosi deputy chief of staff Drew Hammill said in a statement. “The speaker continues to lead a consensus, not only about how we develop our agenda, but also how we will implement it in the future. This helps the caucus forge the boldest common denominator as we work with the White House to better rebuild. “

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Members vis-à-vis the centrist and liberal wings of the party have largely taken care to downplay potential tensions. The Liberals pointed out that most of their priorities made it into the final bailout package, with the notable lack of a minimum wage increase as evidence that the party has moved closer to its views on the differences with the centrists flaring in the past to alleviate.

“What people don’t realize is that the progressives have a lot of our priorities,” said Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., A member of the Progressive Caucus of Congress. “I definitely don’t think so [leadership] should take the progressive wing for granted and I know they don’t because they know what happened in the “negotiations” about the coronavirus relief plan.

Moderate Democrats have raised concerns about continuing to cast votes on expensive legislative packages that Republican challengers could use against them in tight races over the next year. However, two staff members who work for members of the Swing district said centrists are unlikely to torpedo an important part of Biden’s agenda, especially if they include priorities for their districts such as: B. higher broadband availability or permanent crediting of the tax credit for children.

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Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.), Who flipped a GOP district in 2018, hopes the infrastructure bill includes provisions that would lower the cost of prescription drugs, an issue that her constituents in eastern Pennsylvania have been focusing on since before the year 2015 have pushed pandemic.

“First and foremost, we need to maintain the traditional infrastructure – roads, bridges, broadband, water – that are essential. Do I think it makes sense to set other priorities from our location and see how it all works out? Yes, ”she said. “Do I think these priorities should be deal breakers? No.”

When there is a disagreement, Crowley says Pelosi’s ability to massage differences is based on her knowledge of what members need to hold onto their seats.

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“I think Nancy is a progressive, and at the same time she realizes that we also need to focus on the needs of these moderate members and moderate districts in order to have the bullying pulpit or to reach the majority of the Democrats that sends these people to the House of Representatives, to keep the majority, ”he said.

When asked last month whether the Democrats should take a tighter approach to drafting an infrastructure bill that would be easier for the Senate to pass or brave, Pelosi leaned too bravely.

“Only when you promise not to tell anyone I said that is one of the challenges we face – and you heard me say that – that we cannot be satisfied with what we agree on can without realizing that this has to be a bill for the future, ”she said during a press conference. “We have to find the balance because we would be wasting our time building or creating laws of the past century instead of going into the future.”