Pelosi and 10 Democratic holdouts stalemate on budget and infrastructure bills, putting Biden's agenda in limbo

Rep. Josh Gottheimer
(Image credit: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

The House met briefly on Monday evening, but adjourned early Tuesday after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D) and a group of 10 centrist Democrats failed to agree on a path forward for the centerpiece of their and President Biden's domestic agenda — the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill and a budget package worth up to $3.5 trillion.

The Senate has approved the infrastructure bill and the larger budge blueprint. The 10 Democratic holdouts, led by Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), are demanding that the House clear the bipartisan bill before authorizing Democrats to write the larger package, but Pelosi, with Biden's approval, has lashed the bills together to keep all factions of the party invested in their success.

"We cannot squander this majority and this Democratic White House by not passing what we need to do," Pelosi told Democrats in a private caucus meeting. Other Democrats got increasingly frustrated and angry at the holdouts as the night wore on, Politico reports.

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Pelosi and her team met with Gottheimer on Monday evening and offered to pass the bipartisan bill by Oct. 1, regardless of the status of the budget package, but "some in Gottheimer's group quickly balked at the plan, leaving Pelosi and her team to gauge their appetite for a potential floor fight," Politico reports.

Republicans are actively cheering for the floor fight, hoping Gottheimer's team pulls a John McCain and sinks Biden's agenda, but that hope is "almost surely in vain," Elana Schor writes at Politico. In 2017, Sen. McCain (R-Ariz) killed his party's "attempt to take away benefits from the American public, protections that were growing in popularity," while the moderate Democrats would be "donning a black hat by stopping legislation that's poised to expand paid leave, universal pre-K, free community college, and Medicare coverage."

The "ultimate goal" of Gottheimer and his allies "is to gain influence inside their party," and "the best way to get that influence isn't by tanking the speaker's priorities, McCain-style — especially when Gottheimer is trying to repeal the cap on state and local tax deductions in the same bill he's holding up," Schor writes. "Gottheimer can win by reaching an agreement that makes his centrists look as smart as possible while giving Democratic leaders what they want."

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told Democrats Monday evening they need to get a grip and "trust one another," otherwise "this is mutually assured destruction."

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