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6 Nov, 2021 03:31

House Democrats, joined by 13 Republicans, pass $1 trillion infrastructure bill

House Democrats, joined by 13 Republicans, pass $1 trillion infrastructure bill

After marathon behind-the-scenes negotiations and at the urging of President Joe Biden, House lawmakers have approved the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill. This leaves his ‘Build Back Better’ bill hanging.

The bill passed the House 228-206, with 13 Republicans siding with 215 Democrats in voting ‘yes’. Six progressive Democrats – Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Cori Bush, Jamaal Bowman, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib – opposed the legislation.

Biden was reportedly actively involved in drumming up votes for the bill. The president canceled his planned trip to Delaware to stay in Washington and personally phoned into the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) meeting on Friday evening, asking its members to support the infrastructure package.

Several hours before the vote took place, CNN’s chief congressional correspondent, Manu Raju, reported that around 20 progressives were still against the bill. The group, led by Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-Washington), previously said that they could not support the bill without addressing their education, healthcare, and climate change proposals as well. Later in the night Jayapal, however, voted ‘yes’ on the infrastructure bill. “Tonight we have an agreement that will get both bills done,” she said before the vote, referring to Biden’s assurances that his ‘Build Back Better’ spending package would be passed within the next few weeks.

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In the run-up to the vote, Biden issued a statement, saying that he was “confident that during the week of November 15, the House will pass the Build Back Better Act,” while calling on the lawmakers to close ranks and support the bill.

While Democrats were able to secure GOP support for the infrastructure bill, Republicans remain opposed to the ‘Build Back Better’ plan, which will have to pass with Democrat votes only.

The roughly $1 trillion infrastructure bill was negotiated in June by a coalition of Democrats and Republicans in the Senate, but Biden immediately said he would only sign it if the Democrat-only BBB arrived at his desk. This set up a clash between the Democrats’ moderate and progressive factions, while Republicans became reluctant to back any of Biden’s proposals.

While Biden has remained publicly committed to the BBB, it has already had to be scaled back from a $3.5 trillion expansion of social services to about half that, and it is still being worked out in the House. The Democrats hope to pass it in the Senate through a procedure known as reconciliation, which would require no Republican votes.

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