WASHINGTON – The House passed a long-awaited bipartisan infrastructure plan on Friday night, sending a billion-dollar package of funding for the country’s decaying roads and bridges to President Joe Biden’s office.
The legislation, known on the Hill as the Biparty Infrastructure Framework, or BIF, had been held hostage in recent weeks as Democrats debated a separate social spending program called Build Back Better. But it was passed after a group of moderates convinced enough progressives by pledging to vote for the social programs bill no later than the week of November 15.
“The whole day has been rubbish,” Rep. Mark Pocan, a progressive, said before the vote. “But beyond that… I thought everyone was working in a very friendly way. Rank and File members figured out how to do shit.
The bill was passed 228-206 shortly before midnight. Six Democrats broke with their party to vote against the plan and 13 Republicans broke with theirs to vote for it.
The $ 1,000 billion infrastructure bill is a significant and desperately sought after legislative achievement for Biden, having already passed the Senate in a bipartisan vote in August. It includes $ 550 billion in new spending, while the rest is reallocated funds. The legislation includes over $ 100 billion for roads, bridges and other “major projects”; $ 39 billion for public transportation; $ 66 billion in rail investments; $ 7.5 billion in subsidies for electric vehicles; and $ 65 billion to strengthen broadband Internet across the country.
For weeks, progressives had insisted that Infrastructure and Build Better be passed in tandem, fearing the centrists would single-handedly kill the social spending bill. Build Back Better includes several progressive priorities, including billions in funding for child care and climate change.
But on Friday night, the Progressives gave in, after a full day of pushing from Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. In return, a group of centrists who had hesitated over the social spending plan signed a statement pledging to back it after the Congressional Budget Office released a full cost analysis, if that analysis confirms one already released by the White House, or by the week of November 15.
Democrats have spent the whole day in negotiations. Biden has separately had lengthy calls with centrist and progressive members urging them to come to an agreement. The president provided an update on the deal with a statement at 9 p.m. on Friday, “urging” House members to vote to pass the infrastructure plan and saying he was “confident” Build Back Better will pass the House “over. for the week of November 15. “
Biden’s call for Congress to move the legislation forward came after the party suffered significant losses on election day earlier this week, taking a hit in Virginia’s gubernatorial race and nearly losing the mansion as well. of the governor in New Jersey, which was considered a safe seat for the holiday. Several members of Congress attributed the bleak results to the failure of lawmakers in Washington to pass either bill after weeks of negotiations.
“Democrats blew up the timing,” Virginia Senator Tim Kaine told reporters earlier this week.
In a rare joint appearance during the vote, CPC Chairperson Representative Pramila Jayapal and Leader of Moderates Representative Josh Gottheimer told reporters outside Capitol that they had a deal. Gottheimer praised Jayapal for “working so closely together”. And Jayapal said “we will have the voices to adopt Build Back Better”.