WASHINGTON — House Democrats could initially hold off on sending a $550 billion infrastructure bill to President Joe Biden for signature to help keep the party united and his economic agenda on track, a senior lawmaker said.
House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth suggested the maneuver could be part of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s balancing act between moderates, including backers of the Senate-passed infrastructure plan, and progressives who want to keep a bigger tax and spending plan moving forward in tandem.
Democrats are still planning for a House vote on the infrastructure bill on Sept. 27, though completion of both bills will probably be delayed until early October, Yarmuth said on “Fox News Sunday.”
“The speaker, if we pass it in the House, does not actually have to send it to the president for signature,” he said. “She can hold on to that bill for a while. So there’s some flexibility in how we mesh the two mandates.”
Also looming is a political standoff over raising the nation’s $28 trillion debt ceiling, where Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has said Democrats shouldn’t count on Republican support. The Treasury Department has warned that without congressional action, the government could default sometime during October.
House Majority Whip James Clyburn signaled he’s ready for Democrats to go it alone, after saying in a Bloomberg Television interview last week that Republicans should join with Democrats to pass an increase in the federal debt limit.
Asked on CNN’s “State of the Union” whether he’s fine with a Democrat-only vote to raise the debt ceiling, he said, “No, I’m not fine with that. But if that’s what it takes, that’s what it will take.”
Yarmuth said “I don’t think” there’s a decision yet on whether to combine a vote on the debt ceiling with a continuing budget resolution that’s needed to avert a government shutdown.
“I personally would like to see a clean vote on the debt ceiling, so that Republicans actually have to go on the record on that vote only and not mix it with a funding measure but ultimately the most important thing is to get both of them done,” he said on Fox News.
While Democrats have been drafting policy details, including those to carry out Biden’s call for tax increases on companies and high earners, party leaders also have to deal with opposition to the headline spending amount of $3.5 trillion, led by Sen. Joe Manchin.
Yarmuth said he suspects the headline number will end up being “somewhat less” than $3.5 trillion.©2021 Bloomberg L.P. Visit bloomberg.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.