When party leaders announced earlier in the day that social and environmental measures would be delayed, the scrapped plans took on a new blow to the party.
Democrats have struggled for months to take advantage of their control over the White House and Congress by advancing their top priorities. It has been hard because of the low majority of Democrats, with bitter internal divisions forcing House leaders to miss several self-imposed deadlines for votes.
“Welcome to my world,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters, “we are not a lockstep party.”
President and First Lady Jill Biden delayed plans to visit her home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, on Friday evening. Instead, Biden spoke to House leaders, moderates and progressives, said a White House official, who described the talks on condition of anonymity.
Among those who reached out to Biden was Jayapal, whose caucus has been at the fore in delaying the infrastructure measure to leverage. Biden asked him and his 95-member group to support the bill, a person who spoke on condition of anonymity recounted the conversation.
Progressives have long demanded that the two bills be voted together to pressure moderates to support a larger, more comprehensive social measure.
Democrats’ day broke when, after hours of talks, half a dozen moderates insisted they would vote against a massive package of health, education, family and climate change initiatives unless the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office did not provide its cost estimate for the first measure.