House vote scheduled despite budget bill uncertainty

November 5, 2021
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., meets with reporters Thursday.


WASHINGTON – After a seven-hour delay Friday, the House has scheduled a vote on one major aspect of President Joe Biden’s agenda: the $1.2 bipartisan infrastructure deal. 

House Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer’s office scheduled the votefor this evening. 

The delay came after negotiations among Democrats over the separate budget spending bill, the Build Back Better Act. A vote on passage of this legislation is not expected Friday.

Democratic leaders spent hours trying to coax skeptical moderates in their party to support the $1.85 trillion Build Back Better Act. But moderates were reluctant to do so until a Congressional Budget Office score is released.  

As a result, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Hoyer, D-Md., do not have the votes to pass the larger social services package that focuses on progressive priorities like money for free preschool, tools to fight climate change and expanded hearing benefits for seniors. No Republicans are expected to vote for that legislation.

Pelosi said in a dear colleague letter Friday Democrats “will bring to the Floor the [bipartisan infrastructure legislation] and a rule for consideration of the Build Back Better Act.”

The rule would not be on passage of the budget spending bill, but to govern debate on the legislation.

“The agenda that we are advancing is transformative and historic, hence challenging,” she said. 

The infrastructure legislation has been bottlenecked by negotiations over Biden’s larger budget proposal. House progressives have held up votes on the infrastructure bill twice, worried they’d lose their leverage with negotiating the larger package if moderates scored a victory first by passing the infrastructure bill. 

Without a vote on passage for the Build Back Better Act, it is unclear whether Democratic leadership has assurances, and votes, from progressives in their caucus to pass the infrastructure bill. 

Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., said the House can punt both bills, writing in a statement that “if our six colleagues still 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.”

The Senate passed the bipartisan infrastructure bill – which is aimed at improving the nation’s highways, broadband internet and airports – in August. If it passes the House Friday, it will be sent to Biden’s desk to be signed into law.

Student aid in Biden’s bill:Biden’s spending bill would increase student aid for low-income students: But is it enough to keep up with the cost of college?

Biden originally pitched a $3.5 trillion budget bill, but the president and progressives had to scale back the budget spending bill to appease moderate Senate Democrats Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia. However, the two senators have not publicly supported the proposal the House expects to take up Friday, suggesting possible changes in the legislation should it pass the House and go to the Senate.

What’s in the bipartisan infrastructure bill?

The $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure legislation is one the White House has touted as “the largest investment in the resilience of physical and natural systems in American history.”

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act puts $42 billion towards airports, waterways and port infrastructure, and invests $110 billion into roads and bridges, as more than 45,000 bridges nationwide are rated in poor condition. 

The bill focuses largely on public transit, putting $39 billion towards repairing and upgrading transit systems, and making stations more accessible to elderly and passengers with disabilities. It would pump $66 billion into Amtrak for passenger and freight rail, aiming to eliminate Amtrak’s maintenance backlog and to modernize the Northeast corridor. The bill would also invest $7.5 billion for charging stations for electric vehicles and $7.5 billion for electric buses.

It would also spend $65 billion on expanding broadband internet access. The White House estimates as many as 40 million Americans lack broadband access. The legislation would put $65 billion into rebuilding the electric grid with renewable energy and thousands of miles of new power lines, $55 billion to upgrade water systems, with a goal of replacing the country’s lead service pipes.

– Savannah Behrmann

McCarthy: GOP support on bipartisan infrastructure bill dwindling

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told reporters Friday that GOP support for the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure deal was dwindling, and there may be just a few Republican votes in support. He says that is due to that bill being tied with Democrats’ larger $1.85 trillion spending bill of liberal policies. 

Democrats are pursuing votes Friday on both the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the spending bill to appease progressives in the party who insisted they happen simultaneously. No Republicans are expected to support the budget bill.

McCarthy said that tactic would drive away any Republican votes for the bipartisan infrastructure legislation: “They’re bringing it up as one bill.” The bipartisan infrastructure bill passed out of the Senate in August with 19 Republican senators voting for it. 

Last week, a House aide familiar with the negotiations told USA TODAY last week there were upwards of 10 Republicans that would vote for a bipartisan infrastructure vote if a vote were to happen then.

– Savannah Behrmann 

What’s in the Build Back Better bill?: Child care and family leave initiatives 

President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better Act include subsidized child care options and a four-week family leave proposal.

The plan would provide free universal preschool would to all 3- and 4-year-olds, an expansion the Biden administration says will include more than 6 million children. That program would be funded for six years under a $400 billion line item that also includes money for expanded child care benefits.

The 12-week paid family and medical leave proposal was taken out last week as part of the negotiations to scale back the price of the original $3.5 trillion plan to $1.85 trillion.

However, after an uproar from those within Democratic caucus and advocacy groups, leadership reinstated paid family and medical leave in the legislation, though it was scaled back to four weeks.

– Savannah Behrmann

Biden tells House to vote ‘right now’ on infrastructure, social-spending plans

President Joe Biden on Friday urged House members to vote “right now” for his $1.85 trillion domestic spending agenda and $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan as Democratic leadership prepare to take up both bills later Friday after months of negotiations.

“I’m asking every House member, every member of the House of Representatives, to vote ‘yes’ on both these bills right now,” Biden said. “Send the infrastructure bill to my desk. Send the Build Back Better bill to the Senate.”

Biden, who made the appeal while delivering remarks on a strong new jobs report, said he planned to return to the White House to make calls to lawmakers to urge passage of his signature pieces of legislation.

For weeks, progressive House Democrats have held up passage of the infrastructure package, which cleared the Senate with bipartisan support in August, until the Senate approves Biden’s more expansive “Build Back Better” bill, which includes universal preschool, subsidized childcare, home caregiving, climate initiatives and other progressive priorities.

– Joey Garrison

Analysis says Biden’s spending plan is unlikely to add to deficit

The nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation released its initial analysis of Democrats’ spending bill the House aims to vote on Friday, finding it would raise $1.48 trillion in revenue over a decade.

It also said President Joe Biden’s plan would be unlikely to add to the deficit long term.

But a group of Democratic House moderates want a Congressional Budget Office score to be released on the legislation before they vote on it Friday. That score would similarly analyze the effect the legislation might have on revenue.

The group includes at least Reps. Jared Golden of Maine, Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, and Stephanie Murphy of Florida. Golden told reporters Friday that without a CBO score, he would vote against the bill. Gottheimer and Murphy echoed those sentiments Thursday.

A House Democratic aide familiar with the process told USA TODAY a CBO score is weeks away.

– Savannah Behrmann

What’s in the Build Back Better bill?: A look at climate provisions

Democrats have touted the climate provisions in their budget spending bill they’re pushing to pass in the House Friday. The proposal includes $320 billion to expand tax credits over the next decade for utility and residential clean energy, clean passenger and commercial vehicles, and clean energy manufacturing.

It also includes $105 billion in “resilience” programs to ward off and prepare for extreme weather events such as wildfires and hurricanes made worse by climate change. And it creates a Civilian Climate Corps designed to deploy a force of young workers to help communities address the threat of climate change.

School lunches, IRS agents and HBCUs:The under-the-radar proposals in Biden’s budget plan

Some climate aspects in Biden’s original proposal were taken out to appease some moderates, including a $150 billion program that would have required electricity suppliers that do not transition fast enough to clean energy (4% increase per year) to pay a penalty.

The vote on the legislation, which has some of the most aggressive climate initiatives in modern history, would come just days after President Joe Biden emerged from the United Nations’ COP26 climate summit in Scotland, where he touted the proposal as “the most significant investment to deal with the climate crisis that any advanced nation has made, ever.”

– Savannah Behrmann


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