Top House Democrats are confident that they can pass their massive reconciliation spending bill Friday after major progress in their negotiations late Thursday – but a few moderate holdouts with procedural demands remain, and their votes will be key to whether Democrats can indeed get the bill through.
Reps. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., Jared Golden, D-Maine, Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., and Ed Case, D-Hawaii, all signed a letter Tuesday demanding 72 hours to review the final bill text, “the proper CBO/JCT scoring information” and clearance with the Senate that the bill will not be changed once the House passes it.
There is a Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) score for the bill, but the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has released nothing, and it’s not clear when it will. There’s been no effort to pre-conference the bill with the Senate, and it is now widely expected the upper chamber will make significant changes to it.
There’s been no effort to work with the Senate to make sure it won’t change the bill after it passes the House – known as pre-conferencing – and it is now widely expected the upper chamber will make significant changes to it.
There were changes made to the bill late Thursday night in the House Rules Committee, meaning 72 hours with the final bill text would be late Sunday night.
“While there has been progress to address some of his concerns, there remain significant issues he is still working to address in the substance of the bill,” a spokesman for Rep. Jared Golden, D-Maine, told Fox News Thursday. “That is in addition to the conditions he laid out earlier this week… around a CBO score, time to review, and pre-conferencing. I think you’ll agree those conditions have not been met.”
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Case also told CNN he is sticking by the position laid out in the Tuesday letter and wants a CBO score.
Gottheimer was more equivocal in Thursday comments, and a spokesman told Fox News the JCT score would be enough for him to satisfy his scoring-related concerns about the bill.
Despite those apparently outstanding concerns, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., told members Thursday the chamber will vote on both the reconciliation bill and the bipartisan infrastructure bill. Fox News reached out to the offices of all five members – Gottheimer, Golden, Murphy, Schrader and Case – late Thursday after Hoyer’s announcement. None answered whether they will vote for reconciliation Thursday.
Democrats can only lose three votes and still pass the reconciliation bill.
Other areas of disagreement in the House appeared to clear up Thursday amid a relentless whip effort by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
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She met with Reps. Luis Correa, D-Calif., Adriano Espaillat, D-N.Y., and Chuy Garcia, D-Ill., for more than an hour in her office Thursday night. The trio that has been demanding immigration provisions be included in the reconciliation bill said they are optimistic it will be in the legislation. But they also implied that they could potentially support the bill even if it does not.
A late-night manager’s amendment in the House Rules Committee, meanwhile, made a change to the state and local tax deduction provision in the bill. This earned the endorsement of Reps. Thomas Suozzi, D-N.Y., Mikie Sherrill, D-N.J., and Gottheimer himself just before midnight. Those three were threatening to vote against reconciliation if it did not include a tax cut for their constituents in high-tax blue states.
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These agreements leave the five moderates asking for certain procedural accommodations as perhaps the most important members to watch before Pelosi calls a vote Friday. Pelosi argued in a letter Thursday night that the JCT score and a further analysis from the White House should be more than enough to ease any fiscal concerns.
The House met for legislative business at 8 a.m. Friday to debate a “rule” to bring the reconciliation bill to the floor. After voting on the rule, the chamber later Thursday plans to vote on reconciliation, then later the bipartisan infrastructure bill.
The final votes have not yet officially been scheduled. Pelosi is known for not bringing votes to the House floor that will lose, so if the House does schedule a vote, it is likely because Democrat leaders have gotten any holdouts to ease back on their demands and agree to vote for the bill.
Fox News’ Kelly Phares contributed to this report.