In a letter to Pelosi, D-Calif., the nine said they "will not consider voting" for a budget resolution mapping Democrats' ambitious fiscal plans until the House approves a separate, Senate-passed package of road, broadband and other infrastructure projects and sends it to Biden.
The centrists stated that they could not afford to delay this bipartisan infrastructure package for months and risk losing it.
This is the exact opposite of Pelosi’s current strategy. Her chamber will not vote on the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill that moderates covets until the Senate sends to the House a $3.5 trillion companion package of environmental and social safety net initiatives, which is favored by progressives.
Progressives are putting pressure on the Senate to approve the $3.5 trillion separate social and environment bill. This larger measure will not be available until autumn.
Biden and Democratic leaders had to deal with the demands of the moderates as the latest obstacle in their efforts to push the president's expansive domestic agenda through the Congress they control by thin margins.
Democrats control the House by just three votes, giving virtually all 220 of the party's lawmakers tremendous leverage. They control the 50-50 Senate with only Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote.
There is too much at stake for Democrats to allow internal turmoil to sink their domestic agenda. However, it was not clear how leaders would solve the problem. Biden, Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who faces a similar moderates vs. progressives balancing act in his chamber, may have to present a united front about how to untie their knot and pressure rank-and-file lawmakers into line.
The House returned to Washington on August 23 after a summer recess to vote on the budget resolution.
The infrastructure and social and environmental bills are the core of Biden's goals for governing. Their enactment would be a major legacy achievement as President. However, Congress's two wings of Biden's party do not trust each other enough to support both packages. Leaders want to order votes so that neither side has an advantage.
Pelosi is in her fourth decade of Congress and is an experienced crisis manager and voter counter. Friday's show showed no sign of slowing down.
When asked about Pelosi's next move a senior House Democratic aide stated that the party does not have enough votes to pass this month's infrastructure bill. An aide compared the nine moderates to the many progressive Democrats who would vote against the measure if it came after the Senate's $3.5 billion social and environmental bill.
The party's internal dynamics were not publically discussed by the aide, so the aide spoke only under condition of anonymity.
"I'm not freelancing. According to a source familiar with the conference call, Pelosi stated that this is the consensus. The speaker said that both the Senate and House votes depend on having both bills.
The passage by Congress of the budget resolution seems almost certain, as without it, Senate Republicans could use a filibuster (or procedural delays) to kill it.
On Tuesday, the Senate approved the $1 trillion infrastructure bill with a bipartisan vote of 69-30. The chamber then approved the budget resolution with a party-line vote of 50-49. This telegraphed the partisan path the $3.5 trillion subsequent social and environmental bills will face.
Because of the huge price tag, moderates, which includes many who represent swing districts, are skeptical about this bill. Democrats want to cover a large portion of the costs through tax increases on the wealthy and large companies. They also want provisions to create a path to citizenship for millions illegal immigrants living in the U.S., which is also a concern for centrist Democrats.
Republicans will use their campaign ads to accuse Democrats of backing that large measure of voting for propositions that will fuel inflation, increase taxes, and cost jobs.
Reps. Josh Gottheimer, Carolyn Bourdeaux, Georgia, Henry Cuellar, Vicente Gonzalez and Filemon Vela of Texas signed the moderates' letter. Jared Golden of Maine, Ed Case of Hawaii, Jim Costa of California and Kurt Schrader from Oregon also signed the letter.