Leader of the House Progressive Caucus Pramila Jayapal vowed this week that both the bipartisan infrastructure package and the massive hotly debated reconciliation bill, otherwise known as the “human infrastructure” package, will pass in Congress — but stopped short of providing a timeline.
During MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show” on Monday, Jayapal (D-Wash.) revealed it was “great to spend time” with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) to discuss the bill, after the two — and several others — have gone back and forth over the price tag of the reconciliation package for weeks.
The ongoing negotiations have delayed the passing of the infrastructure bill, causing frustration on both sides of the aisle. However, Jayapal, who has been leading the charge for the progressives, promised both pieces of legislation will pass.
“We’re going to get them both done. We are going to get them done. It is a messy process. Democracy is not always easy. Negotiation is not always easy,” She said. “There are differences. Everybody knows there are differences. We have to bridge them, and we got to come together because, at the end of the day, we have to deliver both these bills, the infrastructure bill and Build Back Better Act, to the president’s desk.”
“I have always been happy to talk to anybody. It was great to spend time with Senator Manchin today. I’m not going to get into the details of what we talked about. I think it is important for us to be talking to each other,” she added.
Jayapal’s comments came hours after Manchin and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) stood shoulder-to-shoulder and smiling outside the Capitol.
“We’re talking,” Manchin said, a statement Sanders repeated. When asked if they would reach agreement on the final form of the bill by this weekend, Sanders again stated: “We’re talking.”
Moments earlier, Sanders told reporters: “I think there is a general feeling that negotiations have been going on for month after month after month, and that it is time that we had — we bought this thing to a head as soon as we possibly can. And I would hope that we’re gonna see some real action in the next — within the next week or so.”
Progressives, backed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Joe Biden, have long pushed for the reconciliation package to cost $3.5 trillion, a number they have suggested is already a compromise.
Moderates like Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) have vowed to vote against a number that high, putting Democrats in a lurch, as they need all 50 Senate votes to pass the budget without any Republican support through a parliamentary procedure called reconciliation.
Progressive in turn have used the infrastructure package as leverage to pass the massive spending bill first. Biden made clear earlier this month that the infrastructure bill will not move without the larger measure.
While Manchin has revealed he would support a top line number of $1.5 trillion, Sinema has not publicly stated what her budget would be. She has, however, reportedly said she would not support the multi-trillion dollar social spending bill until the bipartisan infrastructure measure passes in Congress.
“We’re going to keep having these conversations,” Jayapal added Monday. “ I’m back at the White House tomorrow with some of my progressive colleagues. I know the president is also doing another meeting with some of the other centrist Democrats, but this is important. I do think it’s important that the president himself has been really engaged.”