Democrats negotiating a path forward after impasse with moderates boils over

By Clare ForanAnnie Grayer, Kristin Wilson and Daniella Diaz, CNN

Updated 10:27 AM ET, Tue August 24, 2021

(CNN)House Democrats are negotiating Tuesday morning on a plan to pass a budget framework that will unlock their ability to move forward on a sweeping $3.5 trillion economic package amid a standoff that has thrown a key agenda item for President Joe Biden into jeopardy.The impasse forced House leadership into negotiations late into the evening on Monday attempting to reach a deal with moderates that would allow them to move ahead with a vote to pass the resolution, but shortly after midnight members were notified that no further votes were expected in the House for the night.A vote could take place as soon as Tuesday afternoon, but that would require the cohort of moderate Democrats or Democratic House leadership to make a concession that neither side has seemingly been willing to make up until this point.

At issue: 10 moderates have demanded to first vote on a separate $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, complicating an effort by Democratic leadership to quickly approve the budget resolution. Given House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s narrow three-vote majority in the chamber, the speaker has little room for defections. The Democratic caucus is meeting Tuesday morning in search of a deal, including with some of the moderates who are blocking the bill from advancing.

Both moderates and Pelosi sounded optimistic by late morning that such a deal was within reach.

“I’m sorry that we couldn’t land the plane last night, and that you all had to wait,” Pelosi told her caucus on Tuesday morning, according to a Democratic aide in the room. “But that’s just part of the legislative progress … I think we’re close to landing the plane.”Enter your email to sign up for CNN’s “What Matters” Newsletter.close dialog

.Rep. Henry Cuellar, a moderate Democrat from Texas, told CNN on Tuesday that “good progress” has been made when asked if moderates have reached a deal with leadership.

That tone stood in stark contrast to the heated division on display Monday evening, when tension in the Democratic caucus came to a boiling point in a heated, expletive-laden meeting. Multiple sources confirmed that lawmakers grew visibly angry when Pelosi emphasized lawmakers shouldn’t “squander” the opportunity to pass these bills with their majority in the House.”You all have to vote for the goddamn rule,” House Rules Chair Jim McGovern, a Massachusetts Democrat, also said, to cheers in the room, according to a source familiar. Moderates, who are refusing to vote on the rule, were not present in the room when McGovern made his comments, which Politico first reported.The House returned to Washington this week in an effort to approve the budget resolution, which would open the door for the party to pass sweeping legislation to expand the social safety net with only Democratic votes in the Senate. The difficulty that Democrats are now facing in achieving that goal underscores how challenging it can be to navigate internal divisions with such a narrow majority in the House.

Pelosi: House won't take up the bipartisan bill until Senate votes on reconciliation

Pelosi: House won’t take up the bipartisan bill until Senate votes on reconciliationThe demand from moderates comes as Pelosi has made clear for months that the House won’t take up the bipartisan bill until the Senate passes the larger and more sweeping package through budget reconciliation. Progressives have said they won’t support the infrastructure bill on its own without the larger economic package that would expand the social safety net.Trying to find common ground, Democratic leadership attempted to put forward a vote that would pass the budget resolution using a special procedural move instead of requiring it to have its own vote. Pelosi also floated assurances to the group of moderates that the Senate’s bipartisan infrastructure deal would get a vote in the House by October 1, but it was unclear as of early Tuesday whether a specific date had been written into the rule to satisfy moderates.McGovern told reporters late Monday night, “We’re still trying to figure out if we go tonight or early tomorrow morning.”Asked if moderates will vote for it, he replied, “I don’t know that. I think we’re still waiting to hear from people. … We’re waiting to figure out whether we have” the votes.Earlier in the evening, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters, “We’re still working,” when asked about a meeting with moderate Democrats about whether they can come together and vote on the budget resolution.Hoyer said an agreement had not been reached.

“We had a discussion and they have concerns,” Hoyer said. “And we’re trying to meet those concerns.”

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