House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her leadership team are mounting a pressure campaign on centrist Democrats to get them to support their party's budget resolution without a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill – and they now have the White House's support for a procedural move to advance them together next week.
"Today, President Biden endorsed the House Rule which will allow us to consider the budget resolution, H.R. 4 and the bipartisan infrastructure bill next week," Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a Tuesday letter. "[A]ny delay in passing the budget resolution could threaten our ability to pass this essential legislation through reconciliation. This jeopardizes the once-in-a-generation opportunity we face to enact initiatives that meet the needs of working families at this crucial time."
Pelosi's letter followed a carefully worded statement from White House Spokesman Andrew Bates supporting the speaker's proposed "rule." It would advance infrastructure and the budget resolution – which unlocks the reconciliation process through which Democrats hope to pass their $3.5 trillion spending plan without GOP votes – in tandem. The proposed rule also includes a voting bill.
But this is simply a procedural mechanism of bringing the bills to the House floor. There would be separate votes on final passage for each piece of legislation. The White House did not take a position on when those votes should happen.
"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," Bates said.
Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., and Transportation Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., also leaned on members to support next week's budget resolution vote. This campaign comes as a group of moderate Democrats led by Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., threatens to torpedo it until the House passes the infrastructure bill.
Gottheimer in multiple public appearances hasn't backed down from his group's demands – although he told Politico and Punchbowl he's willing to negotiate with Pelosi. And his group gained some leverage this week when Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., told Fox News that he believes there are enough Republicans who support the infrastructure bill to offset Democrats who might vote against it without a reconciliation bill.
But with less than a week until the House comes back, the group of nine moderates will have to stick together amid intense pressure from top Democrats.
"I would hope that none of us would do or say anything that would jeopardize passing these bills," Clyburn said on a caucus call Tuesday. "These bills are critical for us maintaining our majority, and that must reign supreme."
"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," Hoyer added.
"Unfortunately, the Senate’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act… falls short on many priorities of the House," DeFazio said in a separate letter Monday. "The Senate has had unilateral control over the infrastructure bill. If we want House priorities to be considered, we cannot let the same thing happen in reconciliation."
Gottheimer and his group of moderates said earlier this week that they "appreciate the forward procedural movement" of the bipartisan bill in Pelosi's proposed rule. But they reiterated that it should get a standalone vote "without delay."
It's not clear how all of the moderates will vote on Pelosi's rule next week. But none of them have publicly distanced themselves from voting against the budget resolution on a subsequent vote.
Democrats' agenda will be at a standstill until one of the sides budges. If the stalemate drags on it could put both pieces of legislation at risk with such tenuous Democratic majorities.
And Fitzpatrick threatened this week that Republicans could turn against the bipartisan infrastructure bill if Democrats delay a vote on that. Unanimous GOP opposition to infrastructure could enable just a handful of House Democrats – potentially progressives who believe it doesn't go far enough – to block that element of Biden's agenda.
Nevertheless, Pelosi is adamant that Democrats won't pass infrastructure and that the moderates' position is harmful to the party. "This is no time for amateur hour," she said Monday, according to Politico.
"While the bipartisan infrastructure bill offers important progress, it is not reflective of the totality of Democrats’ vision," the speaker added in her Tuesday letter. "We must also deliver the Build Back Better bill that includes our priorities that meet needs of American families."
Fox News' Caroline McKee and Peter Doocy contributed to this report.