Dozens of U.S. House progressives oppose quick infrastructure vote, Jayapal says

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U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal, chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, speaks to reporters following a progressive caucus meeting on Capitol Hill

By Richard Cowan

WASHINGTON -Dozens of progressive Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives oppose a quick vote on a $1 trillion infrastructure bill until agreement is reached on a larger social spending bill, their leader said on Thursday.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi earlier in the day had urged Democrats to vote Thursday to pass the infrastructure bill, giving President Joe Biden a legislative victory.

But Representative Pramila Jayapal, the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said the group was holding out for more of Biden’s agenda to be ready to pass.

“Dozens of our members insist on keeping both bills linked and cannot vote only for one until they can be voted on together,” Jayapal said in a statement.

That came hours after her 95-member strong bloc met to discuss Biden’s visit to the Capitol to pitch a $1.75 trillion social spending and climate change bill. Jayapal said the group supported the idea but could not vote on it until they had more time to study detailed legislative language.

Progressives had long said they would not vote for the infrastructure bill, which passed the Senate with bipartisan support in August, until the details of the larger bill – once targeted at $3.5 trillion – were worked out.

Jayapal also said earlier she was not rejecting a direct call for support from the president, noting that Pelosi and not Biden had called for a vote on Thursday.

“He did not,” Jayapal told reporters earlier. “He said he wants votes on both bills. And he said that what we do on these two bills is going to be determinative for how the world sees us.”

(Reporting by Richard Cowan; writing by Susan Heavey; Editing by Scott Malone, Paul Simao and Cynthia Osterman)