With Congress back in session, lawmakers are gearing up to pass a pair of infrastructure bills backed by the Biden administration.
The first bill, which passed on a bipartisan level in the Senate back in August, has a price tag of $1 trillion over eight years and focuses on traditional areas of infrastructure, such as roads and bridges.
With the Biden Administration's support, the House is holding off on passing the first infrastructure bill until the Senate passes a broader budget bill through reconciliation. It costs $3.5 trillion over 10 years and focuses on childcare, the climate crisis, and other urgent forms of infrastructure.
Unfortunately, moderate Democrats in the Senate, like Joe Manchin of West Virginia, are threatening to kill the reconciliation bill if the price tag isn't lowered.
Manchin wrote in an op-ed earlier this month:
"Instead of rushing to spend trillions on new government programs and additional stimulus funding, Congress should hit a strategic pause on the budget-reconciliation legislation."
Adding to these complications, progressives in the House have vowed to vote no on the Senate-passed infrastructure bill if the $3.5 trillion isn't agreed to.
Progressive Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York said in an Instagram story:
"Nothing would give me more pleasure than to tank a billionaire, dark money, fossil fuel, Exxon lobbyist-drafted, energy infrastructure bill if they come after our childcare and climate priorities."
With only razor-thin Democratic majorities in their respective chambers, this puts House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Senate Majority Chuck Schumer of New York in an unenviable balancing act to get both bills safely enacted.
But in recent comments to CNN congressional reporter Manu Raju, Pelosi didn't seem fazed at conservative Senate Democrats' hesitation to invest in Americans.
Speaker Pelosi told Raju that she "obviously" doesn't agree with Manchin's calls for a "strategic pause" on negotiations, further elaborating that she's "pretty excited about where we are."
When Pelosi expressed expectations to pass the reconciliation bill at a $3.5 trillion price tag, Raju said she would "have to go below that," to which the Speaker responded:
The reporter answered, "because people like Joe Manchin and [Arizona Democratic Senator] Krysten Sinema say that's too much money."
"Well, you'll have to talk to the Senate about that, but we're gonna pay for as much of it as possible. It'll have far less impact than the national debt than the Republican 2017 tax scam that 83 percent of the benefits went to the top 1 percent and it added two trillion dollars to the national debt."
People applauded her answer.
There's growing pressure for moderate Democrats in the Senate to get in line.
They've yet to signal a change of heart.