After a day of impasse, Democrats shrugged off the divide between progressives and centrists in passing a $1 trillion package of highway, broadband and other infrastructure improvements, asking President Joe Biden to sign it into law. sent.
The 228-206 vote is a major victory for Biden’s Democrats, who have struggled for months over ambitious spending bills that are a big part of his domestic agenda.
Biden’s administration will now oversee the biggest upgrade to America’s roads, railways and other transportation infrastructure in a generation, which he promised would create jobs and boost American competitiveness.
Democrats still have a lot of work to do on the second pillar of Biden’s domestic program: a massive expansion of the social safety net and programs to fight climate change. At a cost of $1.75 trillion, the package would be the largest expansion of the American safety net since the 1960s, but the party behind it has struggled to unite.
Democratic leaders had expected both bills out of the House on Friday, but postponed the action after centrists demanded a non-partisan accounting of its costs – a process that could take weeks.
After hours of closed-door meetings, a group of centrists promised to vote for the bill by November 20—until the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found that its cost was in line with White House estimates.
“Welcome to my world. This is the Democratic Party,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters earlier in the day. “We are not a lockstep party.”
The stalemate came just days after the Democrats suffered a defeat in state elections, raising concerns that they could lose control of Congress next year.
Biden called on lawmakers to urge them to pass the transportation package, which has already been approved in the Senate.
The infrastructure bill passed with the support of 13 Republicans, fulfilling Biden’s promise to pass some bipartisan legislation. The phrase “infrastructure week” became a Washington punchline during his predecessor Donald Trump’s four years in the White House, when plans to focus those investments were repeatedly derailed by scandals.
aim to move forward
The party is eager to show it can deliver on the presidential agenda and face challenges in the 2022 midterm elections, in which Republicans will try to gain control of both houses of Congress, which they Democrats under Trump. had lost to.
Congress is also facing a December 3 deadline to prevent politically embarrassing government shutdowns and financially disastrous defaults on federal government debt.
With a very small majority in Congress and a united Republican opposition, Democrats need unity to pass the law.
The infrastructure bill, passed in the Senate with 19 Republican votes in August, will fund the expansion of broadband Internet service as well as massive upgrades of America’s roads, bridges, airports, seaports and rail systems.
The “Build Back Better” package includes provisions on child care and preschool, eldercare, healthcare, prescription drug pricing, and immigration.
It will bolster the credibility of Biden’s pledge to halve US greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels by 2030 during the United Nations climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland.
Republicans similarly oppose that law, projecting it as a dramatic expansion of the government that would hurt businesses.
“This is potentially a very dark day for America,” said Republican Representative Glenn Grothman, who characterized the law’s childcare and preschool provisions as a “Marxist” attempt by the federal government to raise children.
The nonpartisan US Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that the social-spending bill will generate $1.48 trillion in new tax revenue over the next decade, well below its $1.75 trillion cost.
Pelosi and other top Democrats have said that fails to account for savings from increased tax enforcement and lower prescription drug prices.