The House Friday night passed the bipartisan infrastructure bill after a multi-hour standoff between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and left-wing members of her party who vowed to oppose it without voting on President Joe Biden’s $1.75 trillion spending package in tandem.
The package, which devotes about $1.2 trillion over the next decade towards improving roads, bridges, ports, waterways, rural broadband access and more, passed on a 228-206 vote, with 13 Republicans and 6 Democrats breaking party lines to vote for and against the bill, respectively. It passed after an 11th-hour deal between the far-left Congressional Progressive Caucus, moderate Blue Dog Democrats and the Congressional Black Caucus that allowed for the House to pass the infrastructure bill and adopt the rule governing the budget’s debate.
While the last minute agreement allowing for a successful vote mirrored the original offer from Democratic leadership, it included a written agreement from moderates backed by Biden that they would vote for the broader spending package if the CBO score was aligned with White House estimates.
“We commit to voting for the Build Back Better Act, in its current form other than technical changes, as expeditiously as we receive technical changes,” the moderates’ statement said in part.
“I am urging all members to vote for both the rule for consideration of the Build Back Better Act and final passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure bill tonight,” Biden said as Democrats continued to meet. “I am confident that during the week of November 15, the House will pass the Build Back Better Act.”
Democrats originally planned to vote on both the Biden’s budget and the infrastructure bill Friday, but those plans quickly derailed as a handful of moderates refused to vote for the budget without a score from the Congressional Budget Office, which leadership said could take weeks to calculate. When leadership then said that the House would vote on the rule outlining the budget’s debate – not on final passage – and then vote to pass the infrastructure bill, Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal, the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, immediately objected.
“As we’ve constantly said, there are dozens of members who want to vote both bills … out of the House together,” Jayapal said in a statement. “We now understand that there are six Democratic members who want a formal CBO score on Build Back Better before voting.”
“If our six colleagues want to wait for a CBO score, we would agree to give them that time – after which point we can vote on both bills together,” Jayapal concluded.
Shortly after intraparty disagreements seemed to shelve the passage of either bill for weeks, Democratic leadership vowed to hold a vote on the infrastructure bill Friday, effectively daring Democrats opposed to vote against it.
“I believe the votes are there,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters.
The House is set to vote on the rule governing the budget’s debate immediately after the infrastructure bill passed. While the infrastructure bill can immediately land on Biden’s desk once out of the House, the budget faces a much trickier path to becoming law.
Upon receiving a score from the Congressional Budget Office and reaching the Senate, it is all but certain to be amended by Democrats opposed to specific provisions as the House wrote them. If Senate Democrats unite behind a package, it then needs approval from Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough to ensure it complies with the chamber’s rules.
If it clears, the Senate will have a vote-a-rama, where Republicans can offer hundreds of politically tricky amendments and then could pass if every single Democrat votes in favor. If it does, it heads back to the House, likely without the proposals that many, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have triumphed.
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