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Speaker Pelosi: It’s ‘self-evident’ reconciliation bill will be less than $3.5T

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) holds a news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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UPDATED 2:31 PM PT – Sunday, September 26, 2021

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) shifted her messaging around the reconciliation package. Going on the weekend talk show circuit on Sunday, the California Democrat said the final proposal would be less than the $3.5 trillion currently proposed.

Pelosi said a reduction in the price tag for the package was self evident.

“Yea. I mean, That seems self evident. That seems self evident,” she said. “So, it’s not just, we have some, shall we say, birdbath, privileged, kinds of things. It’s legislation, so. The fact is that this is the excitement of it all.”

House Democrats are pushing the largest spending bill in our nation’s history. pic.twitter.com/wnkc2cG85L

— House Republicans (@HouseGOP) September 25, 2021

Pelosi has said the bipartisan infrastructure deal, priced at $1.2 trillion, could receive a vote as early as Monday. Before this point, she had tied passage of infrastructure to passage of reconciliation at the same time.

Members of the progressive wing of the Democrats have demanded the two bills be tied together. Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D) said she believed infrastructure would not be voted on without reconciliation because Pelosi knew she didn’t have the votes to pass infrastructure by itself.

Similar to Pelosi, Jayapal said the $3.5 trillion was not a number set in stone. However, she said she believed no alternatives existed to the current price tag.

“Ultimately, I think it depends on what we put in there. We put our proposal out, it cost $3.5 trillion when you add everything up, but if somebody wants to take something out, we need to hear what that is,” she explained. “I don’t know what the alternative proposal is, so it’s difficult for me to say.”

A deal’s a deal. We don’t pass the infrastructure bill without passing the Build Back Better Act, investing in child care, climate action, paid leave, housing, health care, education, and a roadmap to citizenship.

Let’s get this done and deliver for the people.

— Rep. Pramila Jayapal (@RepJayapal) September 26, 2021

The mixed messages have not been limited to the House side of the debate over reconciliation. In the Senate, where there was no room for defections among the caucus, the confused messages have been strong as well.

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin (D) said he believed more time was needed before committing to over $3 trillion in new spending. He added current spending was fine to fund necessary programs through the end of the year, so there was no need to even discuss new spending measures.

While Democrats have sent opposing messages about the costs and timeline of passing the spending spree, Republicans have been unified in their opposition to the partisan reconciliation package. Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey (R) appeared on Jake Tapper’s show on Sunday, where he was asked why Republicans won’t vote to raise the debt ceiling.

Toomey said the Democrats needed to take the debt they were creating on their own and noted the massive spending bill would increase the debt solely for Democrat spending priorities.

“Democrats can pass the debt ceiling all by themselves and that’s what should happen and here’s why Jake. They are in the midst of an absolutely unprecedented, very damaging spending spree on a scale that we have never seen,” he asserted. “They want us to come along and authorize the borrowing to help pay for it when we are totally opposed to what they’re doing.”

.@SenToomey: Democrats are trying to ram through a reckless $3.5 T tax-and-spending bill—despite reservations from members of their own caucus!

All @BankingGOP members have requested that we hold hearings and a markup.

Unfortunately, Senate Democrats have no plans to do that. pic.twitter.com/1VhvFqO29i

— Senate Banking GOP (@BankingGOP) September 21, 2021

If Manchin continues committing to a no vote on new spending, the bill will be dead on arrival in the Senate. Speaker Pelosi is not dismayed from pursuing however, by saying she intends to bring the package to the floor by the end of the week.

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