After a week of failed negotiations with no vote on infrastructure or on reconciliation, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has announced a new deadline for a House vote on infrastructure. At least she says she does. The new deadline is Sunday, October 31, according to a "Dear Colleague" press release from the speaker's office, as highlighted by Jordan Williams for The Hill.
"The Speaker said she wants to pass the bipartisan bill by Oct. 31, when the 30-day reauthorization of federal highway programs expires. The House passed the extension Friday night amid the Democratic infighting over infrastructure," Williams wrote.
The press release, titled "Dear Colleague: It's About Time!," is rather creepy, actually. Pelosi begins seven out of eight paragraphs declaring "It's about time!" as a bizarre rallying cry. It seems to be a theme from the speaker, considering how much she gushed last night in a separate press release about President Joe Biden speaking with the House Democratic caucus on Friday, whose visit seemed to have served no purpose and achieved nothing.
Saturday's memo in part reads:
It’s about time! Every chance that I get, I want to recognize and appreciate the time and work of Committee Chairs, Members and staff for their disciplined focus on meeting the September 15th goal so that the Budget Committee could mark-up the legislation on September 25th to meet the end of September deadline.
Time was interrupted two weeks ago when the prospect of a changed budget made the climb to agreement steeper. But still the work continues. Since it all starts with the priorities and then seeing what it all adds up to, it is important to know that it all adds up to ZERO, because Build Back Better is paid for. Negotiations will continue now, with more time for decisions, legislative language, Senate parliamentarian review and public awareness.
Pelosi also made reference as to why it was that the vote did not happen on Friday:
It’s about time! To get the job done to meet the needs of the people in a transformative way to Build Back Better. There were two dynamics at work: a commitment to the date reachable under original budget agreement and a commitment not to bring BIF to the Floor unless we had consensus on both the topline number in the Build Back Better Act and the policies contained and commitments from all stakeholders in the House and Senate that they support the agreement: criteria that have been suggested by Members. Out of respect for our colleagues who support the bills and out of recognition for the need for both, I would not bring BIF to the Floor to fail. Again, we will and must pass both bills soon. We have the responsibility and the opportunity to do so. People are waiting and want Results.
What seems to be the takeaway, which was also addressed in my VIP piece from last night, is that this is a win for progressives. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), who chairs the Progressive Caucus, had been saying that the votes were not there for infrastructure, referred to as BIF, to pass the House. Progressives have also insisted on tying infrastructure and the Build Back Better Act together.
This October 31 deadline is over a month after Speaker Pelosi initially said the vote was going to be, which was Thursday, September 30. The deadline coincided with when the surface transportation authorization expired. The House late on Friday night passed a 30 day short term reauthorization, and the Senate did on Saturday.