Votes On Build Back Better, Infrastructure Bill Delayed As Democrats Scramble To Reach Agreement On Lowering Drug Costs

The House Rules Committee is no longer meeting Monday to markup Democrats’ spending package, meaning that the full House vote on it and the bipartisan infrastructure bill will be delayed past Tuesday, when Democratic leadership originally sought to pass the linked legislation.

An aide said Sunday that the committee would need “additional time to craft language and get final agreement with all parties involved,” telling Punchbowl News that “extensive progress” had been made, and that the House would vote “as early as possible this week.”

Democrats have been trying to compromise on a provision allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices in a bid to lower them. Though the policy has the support of nearly every Democrat and the overwhelming majority of the American people, some in the party, notably Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, have opposed efforts to allow price negotiations.

“We have made extensive progress on Rx drugs and other key initiatives which were not included in the text posted to Rules on Thursday,” the aide said.

The left wing of the Democratic Party has insisted that drug pricing reforms be included in the package, which can move through Congress without any Republican votes as long as Democrats stay united in voting for it. They delayed another vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill last week after insisting that it be voted on in tandem with the broader spending package, the text of which was released Thursday.

“[Biden] reaffirmed, as our Caucus has month after month, that both the infrastructure bill and the popular Build Back Better Act must move together because they are part of the same agenda,” Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal, the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said Thursday.

The votes’ delay means that they will be considered after Virginia voters head to the polls Tuesday to decide their state’s next governor. Though Republicans have not won a statewide race in Virginia since 2009 and President Joe Biden won the state by 10 points last November, GOP candidate Glenn Youngkin is running neck-and-neck with former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe, with polling trackers showing him taking a narrow lead in the final days of the campaign.

Many forecasters have described the race as a bellwether for next year’s midterm elections, where Democrats are defending their current 220-212 House majority and a 50-50 Senate.

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