House progressives stared down their own leaders and proved they have the votes to block a bipartisan infrastructure bill.
Call it a conscious recoupling.
House progressives called moderate Democrats’ bluff on Thursday night, blocking a major bipartisan infrastructure bill as they insisted they won’t pass it without an accompanying reconciliation package.
That means that after weeks of wrangling, House progressives stood firm and made clear they won’t give moderates a win on infrastructure unless they get some major concessions in return—like a child tax credit, allowing Medicare to negotiate lower prescription-drug prices, and universal free community college that are key portions of President Biden’s policy agenda. That maintains their leverage in ongoing negotiations and increases the pressure on moderates to land on an agreement.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had said she’d put the bill on the floor on Thursday, after she promised moderates she would. But after a drama-filled day, House Democratic leadership announced Thursday night that the bill would be delayed because they didn’t have enough votes to pass it.
The result proved that moderate House Democrats had badly misplayed their hand—and misjudged their own power. Moderate Democratic New Jersey Rep. Josh Gottheimer, who led the fight to decouple the two bills and pass infrastructure immediately, said as late as midday Thursday that he was “1,000 percent” sure that the House would vote that day and pass the bill.