NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Friday, November 5th, 2021

Bipartisan infrastructure bill clears U.S. House of Representatives with bipartisan support

The Unit­ed States House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives tonight gave final approval to the Sen­ate amend­ments to H.R. 3684, the Infra­struc­ture Invest­ment and Jobs Act, send­ing the bill to Joe Biden to be signed into law after many months of pro­tract­ed nego­ti­a­tions about the fate of the Pres­i­den­t’s leg­isla­tive agenda.

Biden is expect­ed to quick­ly sign it into law while Con­gress con­tin­ues work on the remain­ing pieces of his Jobs and Fam­i­lies Plan, which have been merged into one piece of leg­is­la­tion that has become known as the Build Back Bet­ter framework.

The vote to pass H.R. 3684 was 228 to 206.

In the greater Pacif­ic North­west, the vote was almost along par­ty lines.

Vot­ing Aye: Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzan Del­Bene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Prami­la Jaya­pal, Kim Schri­er, Adam Smith, and Mar­i­lyn Strick­land (WA), Suzanne Bonam­i­ci, Earl Blu­me­nauer, Peter DeFazio, and Kurt Schrad­er (OR); Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Don Young (AK)

Vot­ing Nay: Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Jaime Her­rera-Beut­ler, Dan New­house, and Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers (WA), Cliff Bentz (OR), Russ Fulcher and Mike Simp­son (ID), Matt Rosendale (MT)

In the House as a whole, sup­port and oppo­si­tion were more bipar­ti­san. Six Democ­rats chose to vote against the bill and sev­en Repub­li­cans vot­ed for it.

The six Democ­rats vot­ing nay were Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Alexan­dria Oca­sio-Cortez of New York, Jamal Bow­man of New York, Rashi­da Tlaib of Michi­gan, Ilhan Omar of Min­neso­ta, Cori Bush of Mis­souri, and Ayan­na Press­ley of Massachusetts.

The thir­teen Repub­li­cans vot­ing aye were Don Young of Alas­ka, Don Bacon of Nebras­ka, Bri­an Fitz­patrick of Penn­syl­va­nia, Andrew Gar­bari­no of New York, Antho­ny Gon­za­lez of Ohio, John Katko of New York, Adam Kinzinger of Illi­nois, Nicole Mallio­takis of New York, David McKin­ley of West Vir­ginia, Tom Reed of New York, Christo­pher Smith of New Jer­sey, Fred Upton of Michi­gan, and Jeff Van Drew of New Jer­sey. All except for McKin­ley, Young, Bacon, and Gon­za­lez rep­re­sent por­tions of states that vot­ed for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

Most of the Con­gres­sion­al Pro­gres­sive Cau­cus’ one hun­dred mem­bers vot­ed aye. Their votes were cru­cial to the pas­sage of the bill.

Pri­or to agree­ing to pro­vide the votes need­ed to get the Infra­struc­ture Invest­ment and Jobs Act to Biden’s desk, the CPC, led by Cas­ca­di­a’s very own Prami­la Jaya­pal insist­ed onand received — a firm com­mit­ment from a key group of cor­po­rate-friend­ly Democ­rats that they would vote for the Build Back Bet­ter bill with­in the next ten days, so long as it isn’t sub­stan­tive­ly amended.

With that com­mit­ment in hand, the CPC decid­ed to move H.R. 3684 for­ward to bank a win for the Biden-Har­ris admin­is­tra­tion and the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty, trust­ing that the Pres­i­dent and his team will be ful­ly invest­ed and engaged in get­ting Build Back Bet­ter passed through rec­on­cil­i­a­tion in short order.

The Pres­i­dent had planned to depart for Rehoboth Beach in Delaware today, but he instead remained at the White House to speak with law­mak­ers about the two bills. (His depar­ture is now sched­uled for tomor­row; the trip has not been can­celed, con­trary to some of the chy­rons that appeared on cable news today.)

At one point, he called into the CPC’s meet­ing to make his case for fast-track­ing H.R. 3684 while con­tin­u­ing to work on the Build Back Bet­ter bill.

After the vote, Biden issued a lengthy state­ment thank­ing the House.

“Tonight, we took a mon­u­men­tal step for­ward as a nation,” Biden said.

“The Unit­ed States House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives passed the Infra­struc­ture Invest­ment and Jobs Act, a once-in-gen­er­a­tion bipar­ti­san infra­struc­ture bill that will cre­ate mil­lions of jobs, turn the cli­mate cri­sis into an oppor­tu­ni­ty, and put us on a path to win the eco­nom­ic com­pe­ti­tion for the 21st Century.”

“I’m also proud that a rule was vot­ed on that will allow for pas­sage of my Build Back Bet­ter Act in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives the week of Novem­ber 15th,” the Pres­i­dent added, refer­ring to a sub­se­quent pro­ce­dur­al vote. “The Build Back Bet­ter Act will be a once-in-a-gen­er­a­tion invest­ment in our peo­ple. It will low­er bills for health­care, child care, elder care, pre­scrip­tion drugs, and preschool.”

The White House announced that the Pres­i­dent and Vice Pres­i­dent will appear in the WH’s State Din­ing Room tomor­row for remarks by the Pres­i­dent on the House­’s actions tonight. That speech will be broad­cast at 6:30 AM Pacif­ic Time.

Speak­er Nan­cy Pelosi, who has been work­ing tire­less­ly to try to find a path for­ward for both bills, deliv­ered a lengthy speech in sup­port of the bill pri­or to final pas­sage, tout­ing the invest­ments it will make in tran­sit, clean water, ports, roads, bridges, and oth­er crit­i­cal infra­struc­ture. After the vote, Pelosi pub­lished a pic­ture depict­ing her seat­ed at her desk sign­ing the bill.

“This pop­u­lar leg­is­la­tion deliv­ers on our promise to pro­vide a his­toric, deeply nec­es­sary, and long over­due invest­ment in our state’s roads, bridges, water­ways, and pub­lic tran­sit sys­tems that will direct­ly impact our com­mu­ni­ties while tak­ing a first step to address the cli­mate cri­sis and cre­at­ing mil­lions of good pay­ing, union jobs,” said Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Jaya­pal in a state­ment.

“By invest­ing more than half a tril­lion dol­lars in improv­ing our infra­struc­ture, mak­ing America’s largest ever invest­ment in pub­lic tran­sit, and pro­vid­ing the largest bridge fund­ing since the mid-1900s, we will final­ly be able to send our com­mu­ni­ties, cities, and state the resources nec­es­sary to not only build back bet­ter but green­er. There is still more work to be done to invest in fam­i­lies, and I will con­tin­ue fight­ing for them while ensur­ing that this new infra­struc­ture fund­ing reach­es projects through­out Washington.”

This is a win y’all. The [Con­gres­sion­al Pro­gres­sive Cau­cus] lever­aged pop­u­lar sen­ti­ment and peo­ple pow­er to get this agree­ment,” one Twit­ter user not­ed in response to Jaya­pal’s state­ment. “No one caved. They nego­ti­at­ed a solu­tion. This is smart pol­i­tics that’s locks House [cor­po­rate-aligned Democ­rats] into future sup­port with a stat­ed dead­line for the vote. It’s good.”

There are peo­ple and orga­ni­za­tions who had called for the CPC to refuse to send H.R. 3684 to Biden until the Build Back Bet­ter bill was also ready to go to the Pres­i­dent. It was cer­tain­ly impor­tant to hold firm while the Build Back Bet­ter bill was in a loos­er, undraft­ed form. But much of the nego­ti­at­ing is now done, accord­ing to Jaya­pal, Pelosi, and Sen­ate Demo­c­ra­t­ic lead­er­ship, which means that the CPC has in fact suc­ceed­ed in using its lever­age to secure a bet­ter bill.

The Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty has only bare majori­ties to work with in both cham­bers of Con­gress due to hav­ing per­formed poor­ly down­bal­lot in last year’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. As a con­se­quence, to pass some­thing with­out Repub­li­can votes, the par­ty has to be in near-unan­i­mous agree­ment. Every Demo­c­ra­t­ic sen­a­tor effec­tive­ly wields a veto, as do small groups of Demo­c­ra­t­ic representatives.

That has great­ly com­pli­cat­ed the task of get­ting Biden’s leg­isla­tive agen­da through Con­gress, with every­one try­ing to use their lever­age to influ­ence the size, scope, and con­tents of the legislation.

The end result will be a long-sought com­pro­mise that seemed relent­less­ly elu­sive. But tonight, Democ­rats showed they are get­ting there. They are deliv­er­ing Part I, and they have an incen­tive to deliv­er Part II.

If they don’t, it’s hard to see how they’ll be able to trust each oth­er going for­ward. As Ben­jamin Franklin once said: “We must, indeed, all hang togeth­er or, most assured­ly, we shall all hang separately.”

Trust is of para­mount impor­tance in pol­i­tics. It’s cru­cial. Democ­rats had to trust in one anoth­er to achieve this out­come tonight, and they did. As Peter Welch of Ver­mont acknowl­edged: “At a cer­tain point, we have to trust one another.”

With­out trust, there can­not be progress.

Democ­rats agreed to trust each oth­er today. That’s great news. But they must con­tin­ue to hon­or the trust they’ve estab­lished so the rest of the job gets done.

Pro­gres­sive Democ­rats pro­vid­ed votes to move a bill that does­n’t con­tain essen­tial cli­mate and fam­i­ly invest­ments. Their more con­ser­v­a­tive col­leagues have an oblig­a­tion now to be team play­ers just as the Pro­gres­sive Cau­cus has been. The Build Back Bet­ter bill needs to get its House vote by Novem­ber 15th and then get a con­cur­ring vote in the Sen­ate so it can be expe­di­tious­ly signed into law.

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2 Pings

  1. […] The House­’s vote on the Infra­struc­ture Invest­ment and Jobs Act came after Tar­get­ed News Ser­vice com­piled this week’s votes. Accord­ing­ly, it will be in next week’s install­ment of Last Week In Con­gress. The roll call is, how­ev­er, avail­able now in this Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate post sum­ma­riz­ing the break­ing news. […]

  2. […] Every sin­gle Demo­c­ra­t­ic mem­ber of the Pacif­ic North­west­’s con­gres­sion­al de…. Repub­li­cans were opposed, with the excep­tion of Alaska’s at large rep­re­sen­ta­tive Don Young. […]

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