Monday, November 29, 2021

House adopts infrastructure bill, postpones vote on improvement of construction

WASHINGTON – House Democrats finally approved a bipartisan road and bridge repair bill, sending the bill to President Joe Biden’s desk a few months after the law was passed by the Senate and just days after his party’s failed state and local elections on Tuesday.

But instead of simultaneously passing the Recovery Efficiency Act – a key demand from progressive legislators – the House of Representatives instead moved to a later vote on the broader social spending bill.

Democrats had originally hoped to pass both laws on Friday before Congress leaves town for a week-long hiatus. Their efforts were thwarted by a handful of moderate Democrats in the House of Representatives, who demanded that the Congressional Budget Office, a non-partisan secretary, first assess the fiscal impact of its various tax and spending policies. This analysis is expected to take some time, possibly several weeks.

The protracted standoff took up hours of work time in grueling negotiations marked by dramatic twists and turns, which one MP described as “cluster… “But the impasse was resolved after House moderators issued a statement pledging to support the Build Back Better if the CBO completes its analysis by November 15 to show it will be fully paid as promised by the White House. …

“We are committed to vote for the Reconstruction Act better, in its current form, barring technical changes, as quickly as we receive financial information from the Congressional Budget Office, but by no means later than November 15th,” Democratic Party officials said. … Contributed by Ed Keyes (Hawaii), Josh Gottheimer (New Jersey), Stephanie Murphy (Florida), and Kurt Schroeder (Oregon).

In accepting this promise, progressives are essentially taking a big leap of faith by trusting their moderate peers to fulfill and support the second half of Biden’s agenda at some point in the coming weeks. In the end, the CBO may find that the law actually increases deficits, giving moderates more reasons to refuse. The CBO assessment may also not be completed by November 15th.

The Build Back Better Act provides for the creation of one-stop preschools, increasing monthly payments to parents, providing health services to the elderly and the poor, and encouraging the use of clean energy. Its value of roughly $ 1.9 trillion over 10 years will be funded by a combination of taxes on the rich and corporations, as well as stricter tax provisions and savings from prescription drug reform.

The Joint Tax Committee, an independent commission, on Thursday released its initial analysis of the bill that would generate $ 1.48 trillion in ten years in revenue and is unlikely to increase the deficit in the long run. The report was good news for Democrats, even though it did not analyze the impact of expanding Internal Revenue Service law enforcement and prescription drug reform that the White House expects will generate hundreds of billions of dollars in additional revenue.

With Republicans unanimously opposing the bill, House Democrats could only afford to lose three votes to pass the bill and send it to the Senate. At least five moderate Democrats in the House of Representatives oppose an immediate vote for Build Back Better.

The failure of the House of Representatives to pass the Build Back Better on Friday will further delay its passage in the Senate, jeopardizing the Democrats’ broader agenda. Democrats need time to prepare this bill for a reconciliation process that will allow them to bypass the GOP filibuster. They cannot begin this process, which is expected to last one week, until the House approves it and sends it to the Upper House.

With Congress due to be out of town for a week due to the annual Thanksgiving hiatus later this month, and a slew of legislative cases awaiting lawmakers in early December, including government funding and the need to raise the debt limit again, time is fast running out. … Democrats should send the bill to Biden for signature this year.

On Friday, Biden called on his party to support both the Build Back Better bill and the bipartisan infrastructure bill that the Senate passed earlier this summer. The president, who previously postponed the vote until Pelosi on specific voting dates, said for the first time that they must do so immediately.

“I ask every member of the House of Representatives, member of the House of Representatives to vote for both of these bills. Right now, ”Biden said after talking about economics at the White House. “Submit a bill to improve construction efficiency to the Senate. Let’s build on economic progress, build on what we have already done. “

Biden’s stronger calls follow two previous visits to Capitol Hill, where he called on Democrats to unite around his agenda.

Hours of painstaking coaxing from Pelosi and her leadership team on Friday failed to convince her faction to pass the Recovery Efficiency Act. Democrats held an open vote on the Republican proposal to close the House for more than eight hours while they beat their members, leading to the longest House vote in history.

Nonetheless, Biden and the Democrats in Congress have delivered on the campaign’s core promise by pushing through the only $ 1.2 trillion infrastructure bill in a generation that will overhaul roads, transportation, utilities, internet access and more to create workers. places.

Thirteen Republicans in the House of Representatives crossed the party line and voted in favor of the infrastructure measure, which gave Pelosi enough cushion for the final count of 228-206, despite six Democrats voted against, including representatives from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (New York), Ilhan Omar (Minnesota). ), Corey Bush (Missouri) and Rashida Tlaib (Michigan).

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