Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich on Monday morning accused progressive lawmakers of planning for the post-Nancy Pelosi era while holding “hostage” the bipartisan $1 trillion infrastructure package.
Infighting among Democrats regarding President Joe Biden’s $3.5 trillion social-spending legislation forced Speaker Pelosi, D-Calif., to postpone a scheduled vote on the infrastructure bill.
House progressives had demanded congressional approval for the larger bill before voting on infrastructure. Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., do not support the massive spending legislation.
“I think [progressives are] looking beyond Pelosi, beginning to maneuver to set up that they’re the power brokers for the next speaker,” Gingrich said on Fox News. “They are very determined to hold the infrastructure bill hostage.”
The former speaker was shown text of Sinema’s recent comment that progressive Democrats were employing “an ineffective stunt to gain leverage over a separate proposal.”
“It’s not a stunt if it works,” Gingrich told Fox News, “and what’s happened is that the big-government socialists, particularly in the House, have decided blackmail is the only way they can get it done.
“But remember the infrastructure bill, some 60% of it, about $700 billion, is the Highway Trust Fund, which is very, very popular. So, there’s a lot of pressure to be able to refund the Highway Trust Fund.”
Gingrich said the progressives’ tactics were “legitimate” politics.
“Sinema may not like it, but it’s a legitimate parliamentary maneuver on behalf of people who want to get what they want to get,” Gingrich said. “The question is, will Sinema and Manchin hang tough? And if they do, does it all kind of just melt down?”
Pelosi on Friday was forced to delay a vote on the infrastructure bill. The House did pass a 30-day measure to keep running transportation programs during the stalemate, essentially setting a new deadline for talks, Oct. 31.
“As a former speaker of the House, I have to confess, Nancy Pelosi runs a dictatorship and she runs it better than I thought possible,” Gingrich said. “So, maybe she can get it done.
“I get a sense that it’s getting harder and harder to put this together and that Biden on the road, in the middle of 400,000 people crossing the border illegally, with inflation rising, I’m not sure Biden’s going to be able to actually convince anybody that they need to be for this.”
Gingrich mentioned that progressives could try to lower the spending bill’s price tag by limiting it to two years, weaponizing the issue for the 2024 election.
“It would be bad for the country,” he said. “It’s a terrible way to legislate, but if you are a big-government socialist and you’re desperate to get all this money, it’s a rational strategy.”