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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday asked members of her party reluctant to spend $3.5 trillion on Democrats' massive spending plan what exactly they would remove from the legislation to reduce its price tag.
"What does it take?" Pelosi, D-Calif., said when asked about whether a reconciliation bill spending less than $3.5 trillion could pass the House. "Where would you cut? Child care? Family medical leave paid for? Universal pre-K? Home health care, so important?"
Pelosi's comments came the day after Axios reported Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., is willing to support as little as $1 trillion and as much as $1.5 trillion of Democrats' spending plan. This is consistent with multiple previous statements from Manchin and his fellow moderate Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., that $3.5 trillion is too high a number for them to support.
Because Republicans are all sure to oppose the reconciliation bill, Democrats will not be able to advance their spending plan without the votes of Sinema and Manchin, which could require them to significantly decrease the price tag of the legislation. But that may also upset progressives who are adamant that $3.5 trillion is their floor.
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It's possible that if progressives are not satisfied with the reconciliation bill that comes out of the Senate they could block the infrastructure bill in the House until reconciliation is changed to their liking.
Pelosi Wednesday appeared to dismiss that possibility.
"We will have our negotiations. This is sort of a compressed challenge because people need help right away. And we will get the job done," she said.
Pelosi did emphasize that the bill won't be more expensive than $3.5 trillion, and claimed it will add less than that to the national debt due to the tax increases that will come with it. This appeared to be directed at concerns Manchin raised in a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed about the national debt.
"We will pay for more than half maybe all of the legislation," she said. "We will be taking some responsibility to pay for what is in there so the cost for the future will be much lower than any 3.5."
Pelosi, meanwhile, doubled down on the threat she and House progressives have made that they won't allow the infrastructure bill to pass without the reconciliation bill.
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"When the Senate passed a very important infrastructure bill, they recognized that was not the totality of the president's vision," she said.
Pelosi said the House can "only'" pass the infrastructure bill "as we recognize that if we're going to build back better, we'll have to do so including many more people, including women." That comment was a reference to the women-related programs in the reconciliation bill.
"As important as infrastructure is and we support it is not the totality of [Biden's] vision," Pelosi added. "It is a vision that does not just restore to where we were before but takes us into the future."
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