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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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.  

Watch:

9:33 a.m. ET, October 1, 2021

GOP lawmaker who pledged to vote for bipartisan infrastructure bill: "We were let down" with delay

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Republican Rep. Don Bacon, who has said he will vote for the bipartisan infrastructure bill, said he thinks it’s a mistake to tie it to the spending package

“We were let down. Twice now, Speaker Pelosi has promised a vote. The first was last Monday, and then last night. Both times she’s caved to the Progressive Caucus,” Bacon said in an interview on CNN. 

He says the infrastructure bill is popular in his Nebraska district, but the larger spending package is not.  

“I think Americans want a hard infrastructure bill. But it continues to be tied together with this Bernie Sanders $3.5 trillion bill. And that is not popular in our district. So it has been a challenge trying to navigate through this. But most of us want a standalone separate vote on infrastructure,” Bacon said.

Bacon estimates at least 10 fellow Republicans support the infrastructure bill, but “there would be a lot more” if it was a standalone bill. He called the reconciliation package “toxic.” 

"I have committed to vote for it as long as it is two separate votes," he said.

Watch:

9:45 a.m. ET, October 1, 2021

What to watch for today in the infrastructure negotiations

From CNN's Phil Mattingly and Lauren Fox

(Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images)
(Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images)

There wasn't a vote. There wasn't a deal. But 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.

Despite an 11-hour scramble, Democratic leaders left the US Capitol Thursday night without a victory on a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that just months ago looked to be a sign President Biden's legislative agenda was well on its way in his first year.

Hours of feverish private meetings, calls and Zooms between Democratic leaders, their staff and White House officials sought to do what many, including those directly involved, thought impossible heading into Thursday: Bridge a gap that only seemed to grow deeper by the hour.

It was, in fact, impossible. A pledged vote was delayed. A clear framework for a deal wasn't secured. The path toward pulling Biden's agenda back from the brink still isn't clear. But the mood on both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue is more optimistic than it was 24 hours ago.

What to watch for today in the negotiations: White House officials are expected to be back on Capitol Hill on Friday morning as efforts continue. Biden remains prepared to go to Capitol Hill or have lawmakers at the White House — whatever is viewed more helpful to an outcome, a White House official said.

The goal is to have the infrastructure vote on the end of the day, which would require not just the framework, but sign off by all the key players, including (and most importantly), the House progressives.

That is a way away from happening at the moment, and House progressives feel very comfortable about where they are — which is demanding a vote. Not a framework. The caucus is holding regular calls with one another, checking in to ensure they hold the line. So far, the feeling is that they can.

Read more about where negotiations stand here.

9:03 a.m. ET, October 1, 2021

Here's what one progressive lawmaker said about the infrastructure deal process

From CNN's Manu Raju and Annie Grayer 

Hours after moderate Democratic Rep. Josh Gottheimer told CNN there was a “1,000 percent” chance that the bill would pass Thursday night, House progressives ridiculed him on Twitter.

“In Congress, we don’t make predictions like this until we know we have the votes. Some of us get this, others bluff & fall on their face," she tweeted.

"Hopefully, @JoshGottheimer and the other 4% of Democrats will not obstruct but negotiate and help us get @POTUS’s agenda done for the people," Omar said.

9:52 a.m. ET, October 1, 2021

Democratic leaders and White House circulated $2.1 trillion figure to get agreement on Biden agenda 

From CNN's Phil Mattingly and Lauren Fox 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi waves to reporters after a press briefing on Thursday, September 30.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi waves to reporters after a press briefing on Thursday, September 30. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

Democratic leaders and the White House on Thursday put on the table a top line number of $2.1 trillion in an attempt to forge an agreement between moderates and progressives on passing President Biden’s agenda. 

The proposal is fluid, but the number serves as the baseline officials are working off of in an effort to construct an agreement around the elements of climate, home and child care and health care, according to two people with knowledge of the efforts.

The idea isn’t to lock in a final specific list of policy provisions — and several different have been proposed as potentially in or out — but instead an effort coalesce behind what can be agreed on broadly within that spending level. 

That rough sketch, however, wasn’t sitting well with Sen. Joe Manchin, who after two plus hours in his hideaway with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema and then White House officials emerged around 10 p.m. ET to announce he saw no path forward on a deal Thursday night., 

“I’m at $1.5 trillion. I think $1.5 trillion does exactly what we need to do to take care of our children, take care of people at the end of life,” Manchin said. 

White House officials have been clear behind closed doors, according to multiple people familiar with the conversations, that they need to see a number at or over $2 trillion in order to have any chance to bring progressives on board. 

The working theory Manchin can be moved up (and his refusal to directly answer CNN’s Manu Raju about whether $1.5 trillion was his absolute ceiling was closely noted by White House officials), and progressives, knowing Manchin’s position, could come down given the stakes and, actual historic scale of even $2 trillion.

Manchin, even as he was walking out of a late-night meeting with Biden’s top negotiators, made clear he was still at $1.5 trillion. 

No progressive has signed off on anything as low as $2 trillion at this point, and the public position has said nothing about a framework – only Senate action on an actual proposal. 

8:18 a.m. ET, October 1, 2021

Infrastructure negotiations are expected to resume Friday

From CNN's Alex Rogers, Melanie Zanona and Daniella Diaz

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ruled against putting a $1 trillion infrastructure bill on the floor Thursday 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.

Pelosi's decision came after hours of intense negotiations, including a call with President Biden and a crush of meetings and calls with members of the House Democratic caucus.

The delay puts the speaker past her second self-imposed deadline to hold a vote on the plan after postponing the vote that had been originally slated for Monday.

Negotiations were expected to resume Friday, which White House press secretary Jen Psaki alluded to in a statement late Thursday night thanking Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer for their efforts.

"A great deal of progress has been made this week, and we are closer to an agreement than ever," Psaki wrote. "But we are not there yet, and so, we will need some additional time to finish the work, starting tomorrow morning first thing."

Read more about how yesterday's negotiations unfolded here.

8:18 a.m. ET, October 1, 2021

Progressive congresswoman says there appears to be a desire to move forward on infrastructure

From CNN's Josiah Ryan

Democratic Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman sounded a hopeful note Thursday night, even as a highly-anticipated vote on the bipartisan infrastructure package was delayed, saying she saw signs of progress after a long day of negotiations.

"What you have seen as a result of there being no votes tonight is that there has been no agreement, but that there is a desire to move the path forward," she told CNN late Thursday evening.

Coleman, who is a vice chair at large of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said she felt that even in the lack of an agreement, progressive voices were being heard loud and clear in the negotiations.

"I think we feel we are being listened to, and I think it is clear to those that are part of our discussions, that we are very serious about where we stand on this issue," she said of the infrastructure bill and larger spending package.

"All we want to do is work together, so that we can get to the measures," she added. "They are vitally important, they're interconnected, and the country needs all of it."