Oct. 4 (UPI) — Progressive Democrats in Congress were optimistic Sunday about the prospect of passing both a sweeping infrastructure bill and a social benefits measure despite ongoing pushback from moderates.
Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., told MSNBC’s “The Sunday Show” with Jonathan Capehart that “we’re gonna get it all done” when asked about the prospect of passing the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill and the $3.5 trillion social benefits package that Democrats hope to push through using the reconciliation process.
“Every single member of my caucus has said, we’re gonna vote for that bill, as long as we get the reconciliation bill that has the rest of the very important priorities that the president laid out,” she said.
Jayapal’s comments came after Congress failed to take up a vote on the measures, initially scheduled for the beginning of last week and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on Saturday set a new deadline of Oct. 31.
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., who has opposed the social benefits package along with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., criticized the failure of Congress to vote on the infrastructure bill as “deeply disappointing” in a statement on Saturday.
“Arizonans, and all everyday Americans, expect their lawmakers to consider legislation on the merits — rather than obstruct new jobs and critical infrastructure investments for no substantive reason,” she wrote. “What Americans have seen instead is an ineffective stunt to gain leverage over a separate proposal.”
Manchin has said he would only support a price tag of up to $1.5 trillion for the social spending bill.
All 50 Democratic senators must vote in favor of the social spending measure to allow Congress to pass it through reconciliation and avoid a Republican filibuster.
President Joe Biden on Saturday said there was “no reason” why both bills can’t pass, and progressive Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., told “Fox News Sunday“ he believes the president will be able to negotiate a deal.
“What I have said consistently, what most progressives have said, is that we want to do what the president wants,” said Khanna. “And I think the House moderates thought, ‘Joe Biden is a moderate, he agrees with us.’ Actually this time he didn’t. He agreed that we want both bills.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., told NBC News’ “Meet the Press“ that he believes Congress would pass both pieces of legislation, adding the timeline was not important.
“There is a strong feeling on the part of many of us that if you just pass the infrastructure bill — which is a good bill, I voted for it — then we will not get to the bill that working families really want, that finally demands that the wealthiest people of this country start paying their fair share of taxes,” he said.