In a rare instance in which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was unable to do what she needed to do to win a vote, progressive House Democrats secured a major win last week by blocking the passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill the speaker promised would make it through the chamber by Thursday.
It was a stunning failure for the speaker who’s been known for years for her iron grip on her caucus and her ability to win major votes by the slimmest of margins.
It caused President Biden‘s two biggest agenda items to come to a screeching halt in Congress. And it represented a breakthrough win for Progressive Caucus Chairman Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., who held her members together against the bipartisan infrastructure bill while Pelosi and other Democratic leaders were whipping for it.
“I’ve never been as proud of [the Progressive Caucus] as I am in this moment,” Jayapal said in a tweet Friday afternoon. “Last night, we held strong for working families and stood up to corporate interests and lobbyists. Today, we keep fighting to deliver the President’s ENTIRE agenda for the American people.”
I've never been as proud of @USProgressives as I am in this moment.
Last night, we held strong for working families and stood up to corporate interests and lobbyists.
Today, we keep fighting to deliver the President's ENTIRE agenda for the American people.
— Pramila Jayapal (@PramilaJayapal) October 1, 2021
As the leader of one of the largest caucuses in Congress – there are 96 members in the Progressive Caucus – Jayapal is in a position where she could wield significant power among congressional Democrats for a long time.
The 81-year-old Pelosi, meanwhile, was left to spin her defeat.