House Democratic leaders had been hoping for a vote on the economic package on Thursday evening, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that the Rules Committee would be meeting to handle an amendment to the social spending bill.
Earlier in the day, in a closed-door meeting with Democrats, she had said her plan was to vote on it that night and then hold a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill Friday morning, according to two sources. It was unclear, however, whether Democrats had the votes to move ahead with that schedule. Majority Leader Steny Hoyer announced late Thursday that the House would reconvene on Friday morning.
But in a sign that a deal on the spending package is getting closer, House Democrats have resolved one of the sticking points: How to deal with state and local tax deductions, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter. Democrats from the northeast and West Coast have been pushing to loosen the caps imposed by the 2017 tax law.
The last two remaining issues are immigration and resolving concerns from five moderates who want an accounting from the Congressional Budget Office, which could take days or weeks.
Biden held multiple calls with House Democrats on Thursday as leadership pushed to lock down the votes for the economic and climate package, according to multiple people familiar with the calls. House Democratic leaders have already had to delay their timeline for passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill twice before.
Biden working the phones
One of the lawmakers Biden called was Rep. Abigail Spanberger of Virginia, asking her to support the $1.9 trillion economic and climate package, according to multiple sources familiar.
The call comes as House Democratic leadership works to shore up enough votes to pass the bill and after Democrats suffered a bruising electoral loss in Spanberger’s home state earlier this week when they lost the governor’s mansion.
One source familiar with Biden’s calls said he wasn’t explicitly advocating for a vote Thursday night in his calls to members, but was asking them to vote yes whenever a vote is set. Biden, throughout the process, has been clear that he has full confidence in Pelosi to determine the schedule and is aware nothing will be scheduled until the votes are locked in.
The call to Spanberger underscored the awareness inside the White House that moderates in particular are frustrated – and in many cases wary – of the process up until this point. Spanberger had reacted to Democrats’ rough night on Tuesday, telling the New York Times of Biden, “Nobody elected him to be F.D.R., they elected him to be normal and stop the chaos.”
Many moderates have wanted a vote on the infrastructure bill for weeks, and have been exasperated that progressives held that bill up over demands to move forward with the larger social safety net bill in tandem.
House leaders press for a vote
Pelosi’s comments to her caucus about voting Thursday night were the latest sign of how House leadership wants to move quickly to get both of Biden’s key priorities passed in the House before the week is out.
At her weekly news conference later on Thursday, Pelosi said, “We’re going to pass both bills, but in order to do so, we have to have votes for both bills, and that’s where we are.”
She would not say she had the votes yet to bring the bills to the floor. “Did you see the whip count? Because I’ll tell you something about Mr. Clyburn, he keeps it close to the vest,” Pelosi said.
House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, a Democrat from South Carolina, told reporters he’s meeting with his staff to see if Democrats have the votes for the economic bill.
He said they wouldn’t put a bill on the floor if it didn’t have the votes.
The economic agenda bill, often referred to as the Build Back Better legislation, is a sweeping social safety net expansion plan that would address climate change, deliver aid for families, expand access to health care and enact other liberal agenda items. It would next need to be taken up and passed in the Senate.
The $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill passed out of the Senate in August, and is still awaiting a vote in the House. Passage of that bill has been held up previously as progressives insisted that the two measures move in tandem, but now progressives are signaling they are ready to vote for both pieces of legislation this week.
Still unclear if Democrats have the votes
In one potential sign of the challenge to lock down votes, Democratic Rep. Ed Case of Hawaii, a leader of the moderate Blue Dogs, told CNN earlier Thursday he hadn’t changed his position: There must be an official score from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office before he can vote for the package.
“Everything is in the letter,” he said, referring to a letter he and other moderates signed laying out their demands before considering whether to vote for the bill.
Asked if he changed his position, Case said: “No.”
Problem Solvers Caucus Co-Chairman Josh Gottheimer told CNN that they “don’t have a final bill yet” when asked if he was ready to vote on the larger economic package Thursday night.
“There are still pieces being worked through, as you know, in different areas,” he said.
Asked if he still wanted a CBO score, Gottheimer told reporters, “We’ve asked for certain CBO tables. We’re waiting on that. We feel that’s information we’re owed. Those are the kind of things that we think are really important to make sure we go through.”
The New Jersey Democrat also said his party should learn from Tuesday’s elections that “people expect us to act. They expect action.”
He added, “We could vote this week on the bipartisan infrastructure package that was passed out of the Senate over there in August. It’s been sitting here waiting for action. That’d be a great place we can start acting.”
This story has been updated with additional developments Thursday.
CNN’s Jessica Dean, Lauren Fox, Phil Mattingly, Manu Raju, Kristin Wilson, Annie Grayer and Morgan Rimmer contributed.