By ALAN FRAM
WASHINGTON (AP) – The House on Friday night approved a $ 1 trillion package of road and other infrastructure projects after Democrats resolved a months-long standoff between progressives and moderates, winning the president Joe Biden and his party had grown more and more eager to make a claim.
The House passed Measure 228-206, eliciting prolonged cheers from the relieved Democratic side of the House. Thirteen Republicans, mostly moderate, supported the legislation while six of the Democrats’ most left-wing members – including Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Cori Bush of Missouri – opposed it.
The approval of the bill, which would create legions of jobs and improve broadband, water supply and other public works, landed it on the desk of a president whose approval ratings have fallen and whose nervous party has been cold in the eyes of voters this week. elections of the year.
The Democratic gubernatorial candidates were defeated in Virginia and won in New Jersey, two blue-leaning states. These setbacks have made party leaders – and moderates and progressives – anxious to produce hard-hitting legislation and demonstrate they know how to govern. Democrats can hardly afford to appear distraught a year before the midterm election, which could allow Republicans to regain control of Congress.
Merely releasing the infrastructure measure for final congressional approval was like an adrenaline rush for Democrats. Yet despite the victory, Democrats suffered a setback when they postponed the vote on an even larger second bill until later this month.
The 10-year, $ 1.85 trillion measure to strengthen health, family and climate change programs was dismissed after moderates demanded a cost estimate for the sprawling measure from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. The postponement dashed hopes the day would produce a double-barreled victory for Biden with the passage of the two bills.
But in an evening breakout negotiated by Biden and House leaders, five moderates later agreed to back the bill if the CBO’s estimates are in line with preliminary figures provided by the White House and tax analysts. of Congress. The deal, in which lawmakers pledged to vote on the social and environmental bill by the week of November 15, was an important step towards a House vote that could ultimately send it to the Senate.
“Generations from now, people will look back and know that was when America won the 21st century economic competition,” Biden said in a written statement early Saturday.
President and First Lady Jill Biden delayed plans to visit their home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware on Friday night. Instead, Biden spoke to House leaders, moderates and progressives, said a White House official who described the conversations on condition of anonymity.
Representative Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., Head of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said Biden even called his mother in India, although the reason is unclear.
“It wasn’t to bribe me, that’s when it was all done,” Jayapal told reporters. The lawmaker said her mother told her she “kept screaming like a little girl.”
In a two-sentence statement, the five moderates said that while budget estimates on the social and environmental bill are problematic, “we remain committed to working to resolve any discrepancies” to pass it. The five included Rep. Josh Gottheimer, DN.J., leader of a centrist group that this summer repeatedly pressured House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., To schedule votes earlier. on the bill on infrastructure.
In return, the progressives agreed to back the infrastructure measure, which they had spent months hostage to in an attempt to pressure the moderates to support the bigger bill.
The day marked a rare relaxation between the moderate and progressive wings of Democrats who party leaders hope will continue this fall. Rival factions have spent the past few weeks accusing each other of compromising the success of Biden and the party by exaggerating their hands and have expressed deep distrust of each other.
But on Friday night Jayapal suggested they would work together to move forward.
“Let me tell you that we are going to trust each other because the Democratic Party is together on this point. We are united on the fact that it is important for us to succeed in both bills, ”she said.
The deal was reached after the White House issued a statement by Biden explicitly urging Democrats to support both bills. “I am confident that during the week of November 15, the House will pass the Build Back Better Act,” he said.
When party leaders announced earlier today that the social and environmental measure would be delayed, the scrambled plans cast a new veil on the party.
Democrats have struggled for months to leverage their control of the White House and Congress by advancing their top priorities. It has been difficult, in part because of the slim Democratic majority, with bitter internal divisions forcing House leaders to miss several self-imposed voting deadlines.
“Welcome to my world,” Pelosi told reporters, adding, “We are not a lockdown party.”
Progressives have long demanded that the two massive bills be passed together to put pressure on the moderates to support the larger and broader social measure.
Democrats’ day turned tumultuous early after half a dozen moderates demanded CBO’s cost estimate of the vast array of health, education, family and climate change initiatives before voting for that.
Party leaders said it would take days or more. But with Friday’s vote delayed and lawmakers leaving town for a week-long hiatus, those budget estimates should be ready by the time a vote takes place.
The infrastructure measure cleared the Senate in August with bipartisan support. The package would provide huge sums for highways, public transport, broadband, airports, drinking and wastewater, power grids and other projects.
But he has become a pawn in the long struggle for power between progressives and moderates. Early Friday, Jayapal said the non-partisan White House-Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation had provided lawmakers with all the tax information needed for the general bill. She suggested progressives would oppose the infrastructure bill unless the two measures are passed together.
But that changed after the two Democratic factions came to an agreement.
Passing the social and environmental package in the House would send it to the Senate, where it faces some changes and more Democratic drama. This is mainly due to the demands of the senses. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona to contain the costs of the measure and to curb or abandon some of its initiatives.
The moderates forced executives to reduce the measure from about 2,100 pages to about half of its original size of $ 3.5 trillion. Republicans oppose it because it is too costly and damaging to the economy.
The package would provide large numbers of Americans with help paying for health care, raising children, and caring for the elderly in their homes. The package would provide $ 555 billion in tax breaks encouraging cleaner energy and electric vehicles. Democrats in recent days have added provisions reinstating a new paid family leave program and work permits for millions of immigrants.
Much of the cost of the package would be covered by higher taxes on wealthier Americans and big business.
Associated Press editors Lisa Mascaro, Farnoush Amiri, Kevin Freking, Aamer Madhani, Alexandra Jaffe, Mary Clare Jalonick, and Brian Slodysko contributed to this report.