IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Democrats remain divided ahead of Monday's infrastructure vote

First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
Image: Congress Works On Domestic Agenda On Capitol Hill
Joe Manchin leaves the Capitol to meet with President Biden on Sept. 22, 2021 in Washington.Kevin Dietsch / Getty Images

WASHINGTON — We told you that President Joe Biden’s meetings yesterday could offer an early answer to how Democrats should proceed in resolving their intraparty standoff over the president’s legislative agenda.

As of this morning, we still don’t have an answer.

The central conflict is that Democratic progressives oppose a House vote this Monday for the Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure bill, arguing that the larger $3.5 trillion reconciliation package should be considered first or at least at the same time.

But moderates want the House to pass the infrastructure bill on Monday, believing that negotiations over the reconciliation package should come later.

Here were the reactions after Biden’s White House meetings with House and Senate moderates (first) and House and Senate progressives (afterwards):

"My hope is that [infrastructure] vote will be delayed. If it's not, it should be defeated, because both bills have got to go forward," Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said, per NBC News.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., who heads the Congressional Progressive Caucus, “reiterated that perhaps half the roughly 100-member bloc could vote against the infrastructure measure Monday if the shape of the $3.5 trillion tax-and-spending bill is not finalized by then,” the Washington Post reports.

And as for the moderates, Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., “said it would be ‘really disappointing and embarrassing’ if the infrastructure bill failed because of opposition from progressives,” the New York Times adds.

So Democrats are still deadlocked.

But there was some progress. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., said Biden told centrists to come up with a price tag for reconciliation they could support.

“He basically just said find a number you’re comfortable with based on the needs you still have and how we deliver it to the American people,” Manchin said, per NBC’s Capitol Hill team.

Still, Manchin said that crafting a reconciliation would take time. “I think a good reconciliation bill could be done whenever. This will take a lot more time, there's a lot more involved in the tax structures and all the different things. It's going to take a lot more in depth on that. And to hold up [an infrastructure] bill that every part of this country needs. This just doesn't make any sense at all,” he added.

Biden’s biggest unanswered question

But here’s the answer we still don’t have from Biden: Should House Democrats vote this Monday for the infrastructure bill that the president celebrated when it passed the Senate in August?

“Many senators and House members, as I’ve listened to them over the last few days, have come to feel that just plucking Sept. 27 [for an infrastructure vote is arbitrary],” Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., told reporters after attending his White House meeting.

“And the president said, ‘Let me think about it, let me talk to the speaker, the majority leader.’”

So our questions to the White House: Should Monday’s infrastructure vote go forward?

And if so, should all Democrats vote for it?

VP Harris dresses down Mayorkas?

Yesterday, at 1:41 p.m. ET, we received a press readout unlike we’ve ever seen before.

It was a readout of the vice president’s call with a member of the president’s own cabinet.

“Yesterday, Vice President Harris spoke to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to receive an update about his trip to Del Rio. During that call, the Vice President raised her grave concerns about the mistreatment of Haitian migrants by border patrol agents on horses, and the need of all CBP agents to treat people with dignity, humanely and consistent with our laws and our values,” it read.

More: “Secretary Mayorkas shared the Vice President’s concern and noted that he looks forward to updating her on the investigation by the Office of Professional Responsibility once it concludes.”


It’s one thing for an administration — within the family — to have criticisms and disagreements.

But it’s entirely another to issue a readout like this — to the press — like you would a phone call with a world leader or anyone else outside of the family.

Immigration advocates have long portrayed ICE and CBP as rogue agencies that need to be reined in, forcing the White House into contortions as they try to run the agencies themselves and maintain their effectiveness and morale while still reassuring those core supporters.

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

36 percent: The portion of American adults who support President Biden’s handling of the Afghanistan withdrawal, per a new Marquette Law poll.

74 percent: The portion who support withdrawing all U.S. troops from Afghanistan, per that same poll.

42,623,436: The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 167,482 more since yesterday morning.)

685,028: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far, per the most recent data from NBC News. (That’s 2,375 more since yesterday morning.)

387,493,71: The number of vaccine doses administered in the U.S., per the CDC. (That’s 712,900 more since yesterday morning.)

54.9 percent: The share of all Americans who are fully vaccinated, per the CDC.

66.1 percent: The share of all U.S. adults at least 18 years of age who are fully vaccinated, per CDC

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

The FDA has approved a Pfizer Covid booster shot for the elderly and adults at a high risk of serious illness from the disease.

Maine GOP Sen. Susan Collins says she doesn’t support the new Democratic legislation aimed at shoring up protections for abortion rights, arguing it chips away exceptions for those who are opposed to the procedure.

A new report from Amnesty International details the crackdown by the Taliban since it took power in Afghanistan, arguing that “the human rights gains that the Afghan people have built over two decades is at risk of collapse.”

The Biden administration is set to unveil a new rule aimed at cutting down on hydrofluorocarbons, chemicals used in refrigerants that are considered to have “very high global warming potential.”

The already fragile American economy could be dealt a significant blow if Congress can’t come to an agreement on funding the government or raising the debt ceiling.

A progressive non-profit attacks Sununu on abortion ahead of possible Senate bid.