WASHINGTON — The House plans to vote on a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill on Thursday — but a day before the vote, Democratic infighting jeopardized the bill.
Members of both the political parties have been trying to pass infrastructure laws for years. They reached a breakthrough this year when Senate Republicans, Democrats and President Joe Biden came together to create a bill that funded roadways, bridges, public transportation and expanded broadband. It passed Senate 69-30 in August.
Now, passing that bipartisan law is within the reach of House lawmakers. So why is a bill with bipartisan support in trouble?
Because progressives and moderates within the House Democratic Party are leading competing factions toward a showdown on Thursday. One side wants to delay the vote, while the other is insisting on going ahead.
Progressives are arguing that they should not vote on a $1.2 trillion infrastructure deal without passing a separate budget bill.
Democrats are still detailing that massive bill, which would include “human infrastructure” priorities such as subsidized child care and provisions to fight climate change.
But it has not yet been passed in the Senate due to Democratic Sense. West Virginia’s Joe Manchin and Arizona’s Kristen Cinemas, who have both maintained their current $3.5 trillion price tag, abound.
As a result, Democrats in the House and Senate are negotiating changes to the bill to bring all Democrats on board.
Representative Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told reporters Tuesday evening that there are dozens within her party who would support the infrastructure bill at a later date — after which the Senate and House would pass the budget bill. Or at least send agreements of pripoints and other issues.
But they will not vote in favor of the physical infrastructure bill on Thursday, despite the big budget bill currently facing the uprising.
Jayapal and other progressives are concerned about their gains with a large package that includes several progressive domestic priorities. He doesn’t believe that House Moderates will have their say in voting for the larger budget bill later if they have already passed the smaller bill.
“I don’t know what else to trust. I had trusted a few things earlier,” Jaipal told reporters on Tuesday. “It would be like if you were a detective and you put all the clues on the table, and all the clues pointed to the same person who did it, and then you said, ‘I’m not going to look for those clues, I I’m just going to rely on something else.’ We’re not going to do that.”
Progressives have the numbers to cast their votes with their powerful 96-person party. If a dozen or so of them vote against the bill, it’s unlikely they have enough GOP support to fill their spot for passage.
There are some House Republicans who have openly said they currently support the law, such as Rep. Adam Kizinger, R-Ill., who confirmed to USA Today yesterday that he was in favor of it at this point in time.
Despite 19 Senate Republicans who voted to pass it through the upper house — and the money it would bring to their districts — House Republican leaders are currently encouraging their members to oppose it. that’s because Democrats like Jayapal are linking it to a bigger law.
And the Democratic House leadership can realistically lose to no more than three Democrats on a single vote.
On the other hand, moderates have been insisting for weeks that the House should not wait on the problems with the budget bill before they vote on the infrastructure bill and send it to Biden’s desk.
They are trying to separate the two parts of the legislation in the hope of garnering more GOP support.
Rep. Josh Gottheimer, DNJ, a libertarian and co-chair of the problem solving caucus, told PBS on Monday “You can’t stop this infrastructure bill while you’re working on another. It doesn’t make sense for the country.”
Gottheimer and other House moderators have insisted they still vote for a budget bill at a later date.
So far, the House Democratic leadership is saying so. But it is not clear whether it will be successful or not.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-MD, said he expected a vote on infrastructure Thursday. “I expect a vote on infrastructure tomorrow, yes,” he said.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has been pulled in both directions as progressives and moderates have negotiated for weeks to get their way.
As of Monday, Pelosi sided with the progressives, saying the House would not host a vote on the small infrastructure package until reconciliation is reached.
On Monday, the speaker reversed course, telling his caucus in a closed-door meeting that the House could no longer delay a vote on the infrastructure bill as talks on the larger bill continue.
But clearing all those differences the next day before the vote is a huge task.
The White House and Democratic leadership in particular have struggled to get answers from cinema and what it wants to see in the budget package. She has met daily with members of the Biden administration and the president himself.
If the president can perhaps onboard Sinema and Munchkin with a smaller budget deal, it could pass the 50-50 Senate with a simple majority—thanks to a special process called conciliation, which bypasses typical Congressional gripes. Allows you to expedite spending bills by doing-up and filebuster.
But without their support, passage of a budget bill in the Senate, and better consensus from House Democrats, Thursday’s vote on infrastructure is incredibly rocky.
“I’m never going to bring a bill to the floor that doesn’t have votes,” Pelosi said on Sunday On ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos.”
Contributions: Ledge King, USA Today; The Associated Press