Centrist House Democrats blast Pelosi for delaying vote on $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill

Stephanie Murphy
Rep. Stephanie Murphy of Florida.
  • House Centrists on Friday criticized Speaker Nancy Pelosi over the delayed infrastructure vote.
  • Moderates have demanded a vote on the bipartisan bill, while progressives lament the stalled reconciliation bill.
  • "I am profoundly disappointed and disillusioned by this process," said Rep. Stephanie Murphy of Fla.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Democratic Reps. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey and Stephanie Murphy of Florida, two key centrist lawmakers, criticized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday for her failure to bring the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package to the floor for a vote this week.

The two lawmakers lamented that the California Democrat postponed the vote on the package, which easily passed in the Senate in August, due to internal divisons within the party.

For months, progressives and Pelosi herself pledged to pass the bipartisan bill and the Democratic-led infrastructure package in tandem, while centrist Democrats have long sought passage of the bipartisan bill untethered to the party's larger bill.

Unhappiness among House centrists boiled over after the party couldn't find a way forward on the bipartisan bill, which would inject much-needed funding for transportation projects across the country, with Pelosi emerging as the target. President Joe Biden even came to Capitol Hill on Friday to propel the negotiations and rally support for the infrastructure bills among Democratic lawmakers.

Gottheimer laced into the legislative delay, while also calling out "far left" Democrats for the inaction, comparing their actions to the political intransigence practiced by the conservative Freedom Caucus.

"It's deeply regrettable that Speaker Pelosi breached her firm, public commitment to Members of Congress and the American people to hold a vote and to pass the once-in-a-century bipartisan infrastructure bill on or before September 27," he said in a statement. "Along with a group of Members, I've been working around-the-clock to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill, legislation we helped craft back in April with my Senate colleagues. But a small far left faction of the House of Representatives undermined that agreement and blocked a critical vote on the President's historic bipartisan infrastructure bill."

He added: "We cannot let this small faction on the far left - who employ Freedom Caucus tactics, as described by The New York Times today - destroy the President's agenda and stop the creation of two million jobs a year - including for the millions of hard-working men and women of labor."

Murphy, a cochair of the moderate Blue Dog Coalition, also expressed her exasperation at the delayed vote.

"I am profoundly disappointed and disillusioned by this process," she said in a statement. "While I have great respect for the Speaker, I believe her decision to again delay a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill is wrong. The Speaker pledged that the House would consider this bill on September 27 and that she would rally the votes to ensure the bill has the best chance to pass."

She added: "The Speaker delayed the vote because some of my Democratic colleagues, in a misguided effort to gain 'leverage' over their fellow Democrats in the negotiations on the separate Build Back Better Act, have threatened to vote against a very good infrastructure bill. I hope my colleagues will reconsider their approach."

In relaying their frustrations, Gottheimer and Murphy are pointing at House progressives, who have rejected the passage of a bipartisan bill without also approving the reconciliation bill, which has been their source of frustration as Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona refuse to support the projected $3.5 trillion price tag.

Progressives, who initially sought a larger $6 trillion reconciliation bill earlier this year, already feel as though the $3.5 trillion is a compromise amount and are incensed that the bill, which would provide critical investments in healthcare, childcare, and climate initiatives, could be shaved down even further.

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