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US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi wants her Democrats to push through trillions of dollars worth of investments in infrastructure and social service programs before a self-imposed deadline of September 30, 2021

Washington (AFP) - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi expressed confidence a massive infrastructure bill will pass this week but acknowledged it would not get a Monday vote as planned, with fellow Democrats warning critical work remains to meet the party's deadlines.

Democrats have been scrambling to hammer out a landmark plan to upgrade the nation's roads and bridges, but are also under immense pressure to finalize a $3.5 trillion public investment package and fund the government to avert a looming shutdown -- all by September 30.

The week is among the most critical of President Joe Biden's tenure, with opposition Republicans digging in against his Build Back Better program that would invest in climate change policy, lower childcare and education costs for working families and create millions of jobs.

But Pelosi, despite her confidence that the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that has already cleared the Senate with bipartisan support will pass the House of Representatives "this week," hinted at potential quicksand ahead.

"I'm never bringing a bill to the floor that doesn't have the votes," the top Democrat in Congress told ABC Sunday talk show This Week, asked whether she will bring the infrastructure bill to the floor Monday as previously agreed.

"It may be tomorrow -- if we have the votes," she said. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Later in the day Pelosi informed her colleagues that she anticipates a vote on Thursday.

"You cannot choose the date," she added. "You have to go when you have the votes, in a reasonable time. And we will."

Biden told reporters on Sunday he was "optimistic" Pelosi would get the agenda through the house this week, adding "it's going to take the better part of the week."

Pelosi told her Democratic colleagues in a letter Saturday that they "must" pass both of Biden's huge spending bills, along with legislation that keeps the federal government operating into the next fiscal year beginning October 1.

"The next few days will be a time of intensity," she wrote.

'Irresponsible Beyond Words'

Pelosi is running into not only a buzzsaw of opposition from Republicans; Democratic progressives and moderates have made clear they need to see quickly exactly what goes in the $3.5 trillion bill.

"The votes aren't there, so I don't think she's going to bring it" to the floor Monday, congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, who chairs the House progressives, told CNN's State of the Union, regarding the infrastructure bill.

House progressives have repeatedly warned that they won't green-light infrastructure without Build Back Better.

In order to get the historic spending bill to Biden's desk, Democrats are using a process called "reconciliation," which allows certain budget-related legislation to pass the Senate with a simple majority rather than 60 votes.

But moderate Senate Democrats Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have expressed deep reservations about the huge price tag.

With the Senate evenly split 50-50, their votes would be critical to passing the bill -- something that Pelosi, herself a master vote-counter, is keenly aware of.

While all Democrats "overwhelmingly" support Biden's grand vision, it was "self-evident" that the final price tag for Build Back Better will be lowered, Pelosi said.

She also stressed the importance of funding the government to avoid a looming shutdown, and suspending the debt ceiling to allow federal agencies to make loan repayments.

The House passed a bill Tuesday that would accomplish both goals.

But Senate Republicans have balked over extending the Treasury Department's borrowing authority this time around, a position Pelosi described as "irresponsible beyond words."

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Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

The late Sen. John McCain

I don't know Kyrsten Sinema, but I did know John McCain. Not at all intimately, to be sure, but just enough to say -- despite her pretensions and the fantasies of her flacks that she is the reincarnation of the war hero in a purple wig -- that Kyrsten Sinema is no John McCain.

Lately Sinema has advertised herself as a "maverick," by which she means that she flouts the positions and policies of her party's leadership, and is supposed to pair her with McCain, who sometimes strayed from the Republican party line. Her most notorious attempt at imitation occurred last year with a gesture on the Senate floor marking her vote against a minimum wage increase. Her coy mimicry of the admired war hero was synthetic, leaving an unpleasant odor in its wake. When McCain delivered his bold "thumbs down" on gutting Obamacare, he was protecting Arizona's working families – not betraying them.

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