Biden urges fractious Dems to unite around $1.75T megabill

Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi revved their party toward a House vote as soon as Thursday on a $550 billion Senate-passed infrastructure bill, even as progressives remain undecided about taking what one called "a leap of faith in the president."

Soon after the White House outlined a framework for a $1.75 trillion deal on social spending, Biden made a high-stakes appearance on Capitol Hill to sell Pelosi’s caucus on it. While some liberal priorities were included in the package of climate, health care and other social policy investments, others were left on the cutting-room floor — and House progressives remain noncommittal about whether to vote yes on infrastructure given their uncertainty about the framework’s Senate future.

The Congressional Progressive Caucus held its own meeting after Biden left, as its chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) held off on where her group stood after the president’s pitch for its votes. One of her members, Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.), said simply "no" when asked if she would vote for the infrastructure bill after the president’s push. Another, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) answered "hell no" on the infrastructure question.

“We have had a position of needing to see the legislative text and voting on both bills," Jayapal said, referring to the infrastructure bill and the separate, still-unwritten social spending bill. "And we’ll see where people are. But I think a lot of people are still in that place."

Jayapal spoke after Biden made a direct plea for his party’s support. “I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that the House and Senate majorities and my presidency will be determined by what happens in the next week,” Biden told Democrats, according to a source in the room.

Pelosi told caucus members she wants to vote Thursday on the Senate-passed infrastructure bill, kickstarting a formal leadership whip effort for that measure with answers expected by noon. She later visited a progressive caucus meeting on the bill, taking no questions as she entered or left. Biden sandwiched the Hill visit and follow-up White House remarks into a packed schedule that includes departing for a major foreign trip.

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