The House will vote Thursday on the Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure bill, pushing back an originally planned vote for Monday that Democratic moderates had demanded as part of a deal with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
Lawmakers will still debate the bill on the House floor on Monday, but the actual vote will be pushed to Sept. 30, when some surface transportation programs are set to expire, Pelosi announced in a Sunday night missive to Democrats.
The vote is only part of what’s set to be a jam-packed week in the House. In addition to the vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill, Democrats are also aiming to take action on the $3.5 trillion package to expand social safety net programs, act to prevent a government shutdown on Oct. 1 and avoid a debt default.
“This week is a week of opportunity, as we work to keep government open, conclude negotiations on the Build Back Better Act and advance the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework,” Pelosi wrote.
A group of Democratic centrists had previously secured an agreement with Pelosi that the House would vote by Sept. 27 on the bipartisan infrastructure bill to send it to President Biden for his signature.
But House progressives have long maintained that they wouldn’t vote to pass the bipartisan bill before their priorities are addressed in the larger social spending package, which includes provisions like paid family leave, universal pre-K, free community college, and initiatives to address climate change.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, last week said Sept. 27 was an “arbitrary deadline,” adding that “it’s just an attempt to pass one bill and leave behind the bill that has the majority of the president’s agenda.”
Since the social spending package is still incomplete as of Sunday, it wasn’t clear that the bipartisan bill could pass in the House on Monday without the progressives’ votes. Jayapal has said nearly 50 members of her caucus won’t vote for the infrastructure bill before the social spending package.
Pelosi said earlier Sunday that she wouldn’t bring a bill to the floor if Democrats didn’t have the votes to pass it.
“We will bring the bill to the floor tomorrow for consideration,” Pelosi said on ABC’s “This Week.” “But you know I’m never bringing a bill to the floor that doesn’t have the votes.”
The surface transportation programs aren’t the only government funding that is expiring Thursday. The federal government’s fiscal year ends Thursday, meaning that there would be a shutdown if Congress doesn’t pass a funding bill by then.
The House passed a bill last week along party lines to fund the government through Dec. 3, as well as suspend the debt limit into December of next year.
But Republicans have vowed they won’t help Democrats pass legislation to avoid a debt default and have called for decoupling the government spending bill from that issue.
Lawmakers may have somewhat more time for addressing the debt limit; recent estimates have indicated that the deadline may be closer to mid-October.