Nancy Pelosi Dispels Reports About Congress’ Goals

( House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said this week that she wouldn’t bring a spending package to the floor that is greater than $3.5 trillion, even if the package passed in the Senate comes in higher than that.

In a “Dear Colleague” letter she issued Monday, Pelosi wrote:

“The President and Senate Democrats sent us a budget resolution with a cap of $3.5 trillion. I have promised Members that we would not have House Members vote for a bill with a higher topline than would be passed by the Senate. Hopefully, that will be at the $3.5 trillion number.”

At the same time, Pelosi was sure to note that House and Senate panels were still reviewing the bill. They are looking for potential violations of the Byrd rule that could eventually change that $3.5 trillion top-line total.

She wrote:

“Our legislation is being reviewed by the House and Senate Budget Committees for possible Byrd violation challenges in order to narrow our exposure in a Byrd bath. The House and Senate are already in agreement on most of the bills. We must be prepared for adjustments according to the Byrd rule and an agreed to number.”

The letter the House Speaker wrote puts an apparent line in the sand for what Democrats in the lower chamber would support. Democrats in both chambers of Congress as well as in the White House are working to cobble together a total spending package that would be able to be passed through budget reconciliation — without the support of any Republicans in the House or Senate.

In July, Democrats in the Senate Budget Committee along with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said they reached a deal for the $3.5 trillion price tag for their ultimate infrastructure package. The spending bill includes many progressive agendas that the Democratic party is pushing on the country.

Since then, some moderates among the ranks in the Democratic Party have pushed back, saying the $3.5 trillion number is higher than they would like to see.

One of the most outspoken moderates, not surprisingly, has been Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia. An Axios report published earlier in September cited sources who said, at most, Manchin would be willing to support a package that totaled $1.5 trillion. That’s quite a way off from what Democrats are hoping for.

Manchin has also apparently suggested that deliberations on the total package should be pushed off until next year. A few weeks ago, the West Virginia senator suggested Democrats hit “pause” on moving the spending bill forward.

Manchin’s support for the package is going to prove vital, as Democrats need the support of all 50 of their members in the Senate if they want this bill to pass through budget reconciliation.

It’s likely that no Republicans will support the package. That means if Manchin doesn’t vote in favor of it, they won’t have enough votes to pass the legislation through.