The latest on infrastructure negotiations in Congress

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Melissa Mahtani, Veronica Rocha and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 9:49 PM ET, Fri October 1, 2021
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1:43 p.m. ET, October 1, 2021

Biden will go to Capitol Hill this afternoon to speak with House Democrats as infrastructure talks intensify 

From CNN's DJ Judd, Ryan Nobles and Kristin Wilson 

President Joe Biden walks to the Oval Office on Wednesday, September 29.
President Joe Biden walks to the Oval Office on Wednesday, September 29. (Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

President Biden will travel to Capitol Hill this afternoon to speak with members of the House Democratic Caucus, the White House said Friday.

Biden is currently scheduled to meet with House Democrats at 3:30 p.m. ET, according to a source familiar with his plans.

Where things stand in Congress: A $2.1 trillion compromise framework has been floated by Democratic leaders and the White House after an all-day sprint to bridge the gap between their party's opposing factions.

The agreement Democratic leaders and the White House are attempting to craft isn't meant to be a detailed provision-by-provision rundown of the final economic and climate package, but instead the general parameters that, possibly, could unlock progressive votes on the infrastructure measure.

While there isn't a final document, the outline circulated between key players on Thursday evening targeted a top-line number of $2.1 trillion and laid out the baseline elements of the climate, social and health care areas, according to two people with direct knowledge of the efforts.

CNN's Phil Mattingly and Lauren Fox contributed reporting to this post. 

12:41 p.m. ET, October 1, 2021

Progressives' chair after caucus meeting: "Very confident of our numbers" to vote down infrastructure

From CNN's Kristin Wilson and Annie Grayer

Rep. Pramila Jayapal speaks with reporters after a Democratic caucus meeting on Friday.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal speaks with reporters after a Democratic caucus meeting on Friday. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, the Congressional Progressive Caucus chair, left the Democratic caucus meeting and told reporters she is still confident her members will vote down the bipartisan infrastructure bill if the dynamics stay as they are.

“I’m very confident of our numbers,” Jayapal said.

“We’re going to keep working as hard as we can, we’ll see how far we get. I don’t believe in arbitrary deadlines,” Jayapal said when asked if she believes there will be a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill.

Jayapal kept it vague about progress on the broader social safety net package, saying, “I think there’s a lot of really good conversations happening. So let’s just keep them going.”

Asked directly how she felt about the $2.1 trillion top-line number being floated from the White House, Jayapal said, “we just haven’t gotten a real offer, so until we do, we’re not going to comment on numbers.”

Jayapal said she was not worried about passing a separate highway extension bill because Congress has passed numerous short-term extensions in the past. 

Jayapal gave a nod to the growing frustration that some members are starting to feel in the stalemate in negotiations, but tried to be optimistic in her message:

“You know there's sometimes frustration, but we're all part of the Democratic Party; this is the Democratic agenda, it’s the President's agenda and we're excited to be fighting for the same thing.”

Read more about where negotiations stand here.

12:26 p.m. ET, October 1, 2021

Biden coming to Capitol Hill to negotiate directly "would be pretty powerful," moderate Democrat says

From CNN's Kristin Wilson and Annie Grayer

Moderate Democratic Rep. Ami Bera believes President Biden should play a more front and center role in building momentum to make a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill happen today.

“I just think the President ought to weigh in and make specific asks to get this done,” Bera said. “It’s his agenda”

Bera added that if Biden came to the Hill to negotiate directly with members, “I think that would be pretty powerful.”

Bera said if Biden asked for a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill today, “I think that would have real impact.”

11:44 a.m. ET, October 1, 2021

House moderate says spending bill won't come together today

From CNN's Kristin Wilson

Rep. Henry Cuellar, a moderate Democrat, was asked if he had any sense of how long it would take for the wider spending bill to come together.

His response: “It won’t be today.”

“It’s a process and, you know, you’ve got to have trust in the process,” he added. 

11:42 a.m. ET, October 1, 2021

Key House progressive still holding out for Senate vote on broader social safety net package

From CNN's Kristin Wilson, Lauren Fox and Annie Grayer

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks to reporters at the US Capitol on October 1.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks to reporters at the US Capitol on October 1. (Ting Shen/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a key progressive Democrat, told reporters “we need a vote," as she headed into the Democratic caucus meeting, batting away questions about whether a framework on the broader social safety net package would be enough for her to vote for the bipartisan infrastructure deal. 

When Ocasio-Cortez was asked about the $1.5 trillion number floated by Sen. Joe Manchin, she said, “I think we still need to take a look at that.”

What this is about: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ruled against putting a $1 trillion infrastructure bill on the floor last night, according to a leadership aide, after progressives rebelled, potentially delaying consideration until Democrats strike an agreement on separate, much larger social safety net and climate legislation.

Progressives hope their hardball tactics would push moderates to support their top priority: a $3.5 trillion bill known as the Build Back Better Act. That legislation would expand the child tax credit and Medicare's ability to cover vision, hearing and dental care, fund community college and universal pre-kindergarten initiatives, combat climate change, and fund elder care and paid leave programs.

Today, Ocasio-Cortez was asked if she felt Biden had gotten involved in negotiations too late. Ocasio-Cortez came to the President’s defense by saying he has not because “a lot of these negotiations has to do with our business here in the House and the Senate.”

“I think that the President has been playing a convening role, and he's exploring the contours of the positive contribution he can make” Ocasio-Cortez added.

 

11:05 a.m. ET, October 1, 2021

Progressive caucus leader says she's spoken with White House several times since last night

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Rep. Pramila Jayapal speaks with reporters outside the US Capitol on September 30.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal speaks with reporters outside the US Capitol on September 30. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told reporters on Capitol Hill that lawmakers will deliver on both the infrastructure and reconciliation bills but did not give a clear date on a timeline.

"I've said before that Monday was arbitrary. I told my friends, [moderate Rep. Josh Gottheimer] and others, that they shouldn't back themselves into a corner because if we weren't there, we weren't there. This is the legislative process. It has to work itself out. Hopefully, it will be soon. We're going to work — I'm not going anywhere. I'm staying in Washington, DC. I'm going to do all the work I can to get it done. Hopefully, it can be soon. But we'll work it through and see what the timeline is," she said.

Jayapal said she has spoken with the White House several times since last night.

President Biden is "deeply engaged in trying to iron out these differences," Jayapal said.

"Would I have preferred that he, you know, engage sooner on the reconciliation bill? Sure. But we've had a number of other issues come up. And I feel he's doing what he needs to be doing right now," she said.

When asked if she's willing to concede on her top-line number for the bill, she said, "I think I've already said we have to get everybody on board."

10:42 a.m. ET, October 1, 2021

Pelosi says negotiations continue when walking into US Capitol

From CNN's Melanie Zanon and Daniella Díaz 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrives at the US Capitol on Friday.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrives at the US Capitol on Friday. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said negotiations are continuing today as she walked into the US Capitol this morning. 

“We’re on a path,” she said. “It’ll probably be useful for us to have a conversation later today.”

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said “we’ll see” when CNN asked if there would be a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill today.

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn also walked in but didn’t say much. 

10:36 a.m. ET, October 1, 2021

House moderates growing increasingly frustrated with White House over negotiations

From CNN’s Daniella Diaz, Lauren Fox, and Melanie Zanona

A Marine stands outside the West Wing of the White House on Thursday, September 30.
A Marine stands outside the West Wing of the White House on Thursday, September 30. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Moderate Democrats in the House are growing increasingly frustrated by the White House as they feel like the President has not been forceful enough in demanding exactly what he wants or trying harder to push progressives to give in. 

Some moderates are arguing at this point, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi needs to put the bill on the floor, even if it fails, to make a point about what is at stake and put progressives in the hard position of actually voting “no” on a piece of the President’s agenda.

A lawmaker close to the moderate group negotiating with Pelosi on a vote for the bipartisan infrastructure bill ASAP told CNN this morning they don't understand why Biden hasn't laid out more publicly what he wants to see directly from all sides on his agenda.

"We haven't heard directly from him and I think it's an important piece in all of this to figure out where we go forward," this lawmaker said.

Privately, of course, the White House has been making their wishes quite known, trying to get to a place where progressives would settle for a framework agreement signed off on by West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin and Arizona Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema rather than forcing the Senate to vote for a reconciliation bill that could take weeks to pull together. 

For moderates, the Speaker made them a promise and while they were largely willing to let it slide when the Monday rolled into Thursday and Thursday rolled into Friday, that patience is waning. 

“We are willing to give the speaker some wiggle room to get this done this week, but If she pulls the vote, there is irreversible damage done to trust with rank and file members... she has to put the bill to the floor,” one Democratic aide said. 

“We would rather progressives defeat it than try and negotiate for two weeks," the aide continued.

Where things stand: The problem for the White House is two-fold. There is no sign that progressives would take a framework as enough to vote “yes” on the bipartisan infrastructure bill and there is absolutely no sign Manchin is going to come up to the $2.1 trillion they are floating. Without someone giving, Pelosi could be forced to make a decision about whether putting the bill on the floor without the votes would be the only catalyst to get things moving.  

Moderates are getting more resolute. 

"We are happy to walk away from everything... The President and Progressives need this more than we do,” the Democratic aide said.

9:43 a.m. ET, October 1, 2021

Pelosi "had no knowledge" of Manchin's $1.5 trillion limit, Democrat says

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Sen. Joe Manchin walks with reporters outside the US Capitol on September 30.
Sen. Joe Manchin walks with reporters outside the US Capitol on September 30. (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times/Getty Images)

Rep. Debbie Dingell said Democrats will come to an agreement as infrastructure negotiations continue after the vote was delayed Thursday. 

“Failure is not an option,” Dingell, the deputy whip of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said in an interview on CNN. 

Progressives warn they won't vote for the infrastructure legislation before striking a deal with moderates on a separate, sweeping spending package.

Dingell said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “had no knowledge” of key moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin’s $1.5 trillion limit until this week.

“Any number in between” $1.5 trillion and $3.5 trillion is being discussed for the reconciliation bill, Dingell said.

She said there have been talks over specific programs included in the package. 

“People can disagree. There have been some tense moments. But … look at a diamond and what it looks like in the rough and look what it looks like polished. And right now, we're working together to get a polished bill to deliver,” she said. 

When asked if there will be a vote today, Dingell said, “What’s your definition of today? You know, today in legislative language is not until you adjourn.”

Technically, the House of Representatives went into recess and never adjourned last night when it was officially announced there would be no vote.  

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