The goal is for Democrats to be able to craft a sweeping legislative package to expand the social safety net under a budget process known as reconciliation, which would not be subject to the Senate filibuster’s 60-vote threshold.
The disagreement presents an early test of whether Democrats will be able to overcome their internal divisions with a narrow majority in both chambers of Congress and successfully move Biden’s agenda forward.
Democratic leadership has urged unity and stressed the high stakes of the moment as they try to bring along both ideological wings of the party without losing critical votes from either end of the spectrum. The party’s factions will now be on the spot over how far they are willing to go in an attempt to meet their demands.
The letter was signed by Reps. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, Vicente Gonzalez, Filemon Vela and Henry Cuellar of Texas, Jared Golden of Maine, Ed Case of Hawaii, Kurt Schrader of Oregon, Jim Costa of California and Carolyn Bourdeaux of Georgia.
The group of moderates responded to the news by reiterating that they want to first vote on the bipartisan bill before moving on to the budget resolution.
On Friday, as the lawmakers again reiterated their push for an immediate vote on the deal, Gottheimer, the group’s leader and co-chair of the Problem Solvers Caucus, indicated he plans to support the budget resolution.
“I believe we should first vote immediately on the bipartisan infrastructure package, send it to the President’s desk, and then quickly consider the budget resolution, which I plan to support,” the New Jersey Democrat said in a statement.
Pressed Monday by CNN’s Jim Sciutto if he was willing to take the chance to have that vote first and risk the two bills, Gottheimer was confident the Democrats were not risking anything.
“I believe both will move forward and get done. I think we’ll work this out. You know, I’m ready to sit at the table and so are my colleagues ready to sit at the table and figure this out. And we can,” he said on “Newsroom.” “But there’s no reason to wait four, five months or more sitting on this infrastructure package and risking that or threatening and holding it hostage like some of my colleagues are doing. That just doesn’t make sense.”
Gottheimer also said Monday he has spoken with Pelosi, adding “I think the votes from all of our caucus, if we voted on infrastructure today, that they would all be there.”
But the group’s threats to a process that has been blessed by the White House and Democratic congressional leaders has angered progressives, who have pledged to support the bipartisan bill, despite viewing it as too lean, as a companion to the more robust reconciliation package.
“Constituents deserve to know the truth about how these nine conservative Democrats are blocking urgent action on jobs, climate, and child care,” Alexandra Rojas, of Organize for Justice and Justice Democrats, said in a statement. “Americans have been waiting for over a decade for action on many of these issues, it’s time to deliver results.”
Despite the back-and-forth, Hoyer expressed optimism that Democrats will stick together during the call on Tuesday, saying, according to a source, “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. And it has been clear in the Senate, House and White House that we will be doing all of the above and I am hopeful that we will all vote for the rule Monday night.”
In a letter to her members over the weekend, Pelosi continued to call on them to work simultaneously on the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the budget package.
House Democratic leadership has the White House standing by them as they seek to navigate the issue.
In a statement to CNN last week, White House deputy press secretary Andrew Bates said Biden backed Pelosi’s efforts.
“The President strongly supports the Rule, which provides the mechanism to bring the bipartisan infrastructure bill, the Build Back Better plan, and voting rights legislation to the floor,” Bates told CNN. “All three are critical elements of the President’s agenda, and we hope that every Democratic member supports this effort to advance these important legislative actions.”
CNN’s Gregory Krieg, Annie Grayer, Lauren Fox, Daniella Diaz, DJ Judd and Chandelis Duster contributed to this report.