Progressive Democrats forced party leadership to rethink its attempt to pass a spending package.
Biden and Pelosi pleaded with House Dems to pass infrastructure spending on Thursday.
Some refused, insisting on different sequencing which they say will ultimately secure more spending.
Progressive House Democrats celebrated on Thursday after disrupting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s latest attempt to advance the spending bills that are the centerpiece of President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda.
The House Progressive Caucus, led by Rep. Pramila Jayapal, made clear on Thursday that they would not vote to advance the smaller of Biden’s two packages, $550 billion of infrastructure spending.
The delay ruined Biden’s hope of securing a legislative victory before beginning an overseas tour including a pivotal climate-change summit in Scotland.
The Progressive Caucus has repeatedly insisted that it won’t pass the infrastructure package until the much larger social-spending package – now pegged at around $1.75 trillion – also makes progress.
The group has said it fears that the larger package will get whittled down, or dropped altogether, during the legislative process.
Their plan is to hold up the other bill as leverage until the large package is secure, a strategy that has brought them into conflict with Biden and Pelosi.
As it became clear that the Progressive Caucus had triumphed – a repeat of a similar gambit in late September – members of the group celebrated their success.
“Folks in my district & across the country expect us to keep fighting for their families – and that’s exactly what we’re doing,” Rep. Ayanna Pressley, of Massachusetts, tweeted Thursday evening. “A deal is a deal. These bills move together.”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York also celebrated by posting a check-mark on Twitter in response to another tweet that read: “Hold.the.line.”
“Hold the line” is a slogan used by progressives who are determined not to change their position. Extra pressure from in-person entreaty from Biden on Thursday to advance the package failed to change the dynamic.
The argument over the order in which to pursue the two packages has led to deepening rifts within the Democratic Party, Insider reported previously.
Some progressives have said that one reason for their hardline position is distrust of senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema.
Sinema and Manchin forced cuts in the scope of the social-spending package, also known as the Build Back Better Act, which shrank by more than half from a projected $3.5 trillion to the $1.75 trillion now under discussion.
Rep. Cori Bush tweeted: “The best way to guarantee that Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin support the President’s framework is for the Build Back Better Act to pass in the Senate first.”
“The people – not just some, but ALL of our people – must win,” she added.
In a statement on Twitter, the Progressive Caucus wrote: “There is too much at stake for working families and our communities to settle for something that can later be misunderstood, amended, or abandoned altogether.”
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