The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, said on Sunday Democrats will pass a $1tn bipartisan infrastructure bill this week.
She also said she would work to build consensus on Joe Biden’s separate $3.5tn social spending agenda, which has caused divisions within the Democratic party.
“Let me just say that we’re going to pass the [infrastructure] bill this week,” Pelosi told ABC’s This Week. “I’m never bringing a bill to the floor that doesn’t have the votes.”
The infrastructure deal has been placed in jeopardy by a split between moderate and progressive Democrats over the $3.5tn spending plan, which addresses party priorities including healthcare, childcare and the climate crisis. Moderates want the infrastructure bill passed first. Progressives want to tie the bills together.
Fights with Republicans over government funding – set to run out on Friday – and raising the debt ceiling have made Pelosi’s job still tougher.
“First of all,” she told ABC, “we have to make sure … we keep government open. And we will. Second of all, we have to honour the vision of President Biden.”
Pelosi had promised moderates a vote on the infrastructure deal on Monday but it will almost certainly now come later. The House will reconvene late in the day.
Democrats have slim majorities in Congress and must unite if they are to overcome Republican opposition to the $3.5tn spending plan, known as the Build Back Better Act.
Pramila Jayapal of Washington state, a leading progressive, told CNN’s State of the Union: “I know we’re working very hard to get agreement on the reconciliation package [the process needed to pass the spending plan by simple majorities] and that of course has to be agreement across the Senate and the House because we are not going to leave anyone behind.”
She also said Pelosi did not have the votes to pass the infrastructure deal on Monday.
“The speaker is an incredibly good vote counter,” Jayapal said, “and she knows exactly where her caucus stands.”
Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, a leading House moderate, pronounced himself satisfied, saying: “We’ve been working for months since April on this bipartisan infrastructure plan.
“… Every single Democrat in the House voted to bring it to the floor for a vote this week, we’re going to do it, we’re going to have the votes, it’ll come up tomorrow and we’re gonna vote early this week. I am very confident that we’ll get this done.
“We also need to get reconciliation done, we need to get both done, and the speaker has said she’ll get the votes, and no one’s better [at that] than the speaker and so we’re gonna have a big week for the country.”
The House budget committee passed the spending plan on Saturday. On Sunday, Pelosi said she expected its price tag, a key target of Senate moderates including Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, to drop.
“We’re prepared,” Pelosi insisted. “We’re ready. Yesterday the budget committee passed out the Build Back Better legislation at the full $3.5tn. That was the number that was sent to us by the Senate and by the president.
“Obviously with negotiations there will have to be some changes in that, the sooner the better, so that we can build our consensus to go forward. And we will do that.”
In a letter to Democrats on Saturday, Pelosi promised progress but notably did not mention plans to ensure the debt ceiling is raised and the US does not default.
Asked on ABC about Republicans’ refusal to vote to raise the ceiling, as Democrats did under Donald Trump, she said: “Isn’t that irresponsible beyond words? The full faith and credit of the United States should not be questioned. That’s in the constitution of the United States, the 14th amendment.”
Referring to bipartisan votes under Trump, she said: “Who said it more articulately than [Senate Republican leader] Mitch McConnell at the time? You cannot play Russian roulette with the debt ceiling and wellbeing of our economy.
“Let’s hope that the Republicans … enough of them find some level of responsibility to our country to honor what’s in the constitution.”