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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) began her infrastructure endgame Tuesday, pressuring centrists to ultimately support as much social spending as possible while pleading with progressives to pass the roads-and-bridges package preceding it.
Why it matters: Neither group can achieve what it wants without the other, their ultimatums be damned. The leaders of both acknowledged the speaker's unique gift for pulling off a deal after separate conversations with Democratic leaders.
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“I’m optimistic — not only that it will be brought to the floor but that we will have the votes on Monday,” said Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), who led centrist efforts to get Pelosi to promise a vote on the $1.2 trillion bipartisan "hard" infrastructure bill by Sept. 27.
The speaker also is leaning on the progressives for raw numbers, meeting Tuesday with Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
Over half of Jayapal's group has pledged not to vote for the bipartisan bill if Pelosi doesn't hold a simultaneous vote on the $3.5 trillion "soft" infrastructure focused on expanding the social safety net — meaning the speaker has to turn an estimated 25 "no" votes into "yes" ones.
“Speaker Pelosi will get it done," said Rep. Dutch Ruppersberg (D-Md.). "You have to let her do her Baltimore thing.”
Between the lines: By reiterating their intent to bring the infrastructure package to the floor by Monday, Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) are putting pressure — simultaneously — on the two biggest wings of the Democratic Party.
Hoyer was clear during a briefing with reporters Tuesday morning: He will put the $1.2 trillion bill on the floor Sept. 27 or Sept. 28 — next Monday or Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Hoyer promised to consider the $3.5 trillion package “as soon as it’s ready” — a nod to the reality the Senate still has some heavy lifting to do on a bill that will pass each chamber only with Democratic votes.
Later on Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) acknowledged that package won’t be done by next week.
The big picture: The White House also is ramping up the pressure, specifically targeting the centrists.
Brian Deese, director of the National Economic Council, and Louisa Terrell, the head of the Office of Legislative Affairs, met with the New Democrat Coalition on Tuesday.
They spent most of their time talking up the $3.5 trillion social spending side of President Biden’s "Build Back Better" infrastructure agenda, several attendees told Axios.
Some centrist lawmakers were hoping Deese and Terrell would focus more of their presentation on how the White House will help pass the $1.2 trillion bipartisan bill, according to attendees.
The president will host a series of meetings Wednesday with House members and senators across the ideological spectrum of the Democratic Party — including centrists — to hear their perspectives and make the case for his agenda on infrastructure, a source familiar with the plans told Axios.
Between the lines: The 10 House centrists who forced Pelosi to set the Sept. 27 date now need her help to find the progressives votes to get it passed.
"As I’ve said, there’s no one better at getting votes than Speaker Pelosi,” Gottheimer told reporters.
“I can't solve the riddle for you," said Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) "You're gonna have to wait and see, just like me.”
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