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Politics Why is there so much drama over the infrastructure vote in the House?

00:10  30 september  2021
00:10  30 september  2021 Source:   usatoday.com

GOP Senate candidates backed Trump in trashing bipartisan infrastructure deal

  GOP Senate candidates backed Trump in trashing bipartisan infrastructure deal Republican Senate candidates mostly opposed bill to send billions to their states to fix roads, bridges, internet JD Vance, venture capitalist and author of 'Hillbilly Elegy' Drew Angerer/Getty Images

WASHINGTON – The House plans to vote on a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill Thursday – but a day before the vote, lingering Democratic infighting puts the bill in jeopardy.

Members of both political parties have been striving to pass infrastructure legislation for years. They reached a breakthrough this year when Senate Republicans, Democrats and President Joe Biden came together to create a bill that funded roadways, bridges, public transportation and expanded broadband. It passed the Senate 69-30 in August.

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 29: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) talks with reporters after departing a House Democratic whip meeting in the basement of the U.S. Capitol on September 29, 2021 in Washington, DC. With a federal government shutdown looming, Congressional Democrats are working to find common ground between their progressive and moderate members so to try and pass a handful of legislation, including bills on infrastructure, the White House's Build Back Better Act and the debt limit. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 775717297 ORIG FILE ID: 1343852728 © Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 29: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) talks with reporters after departing a House Democratic whip meeting in the basement of the U.S. Capitol on September 29, 2021 in Washington, DC. With a federal government shutdown looming, Congressional Democrats are working to find common ground between their progressive and moderate members so to try and pass a handful of legislation, including bills on infrastructure, the White House's Build Back Better Act and the debt limit. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 775717297 ORIG FILE ID: 1343852728

Now, passing that bipartisan legislation is within the reach of House lawmakers. So why is a bill with bipartisan support in trouble?

GOP should grab the chance to upend Pelosi's plan on reconciliation

  GOP should grab the chance to upend Pelosi's plan on reconciliation House Republicans have an opportunity to enhance the nation’s infrastructure and reduce the chances the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill will ever become law. © Greg Nash Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) answers questions on Afghanistan, the budget and the infrastructure bill during her weekly press conference on Wednesday, August 25, 2021. The American people strongly support spending on physical infrastructure, a degree of support buttressed by hurricane Ida's destructive flooding earlier this month.

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Because progressives and moderates within the House Democratic party are leading competing factions towards a showdown on Thursday. One side wants to delay the vote, while the other has been pushing to proceed.

More: Here's what's in the infrastructure bill as it nears a vote in the House

MIAMI, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 27: In an aerial view, construction workers build the “Signature Bridge,” at I-95 and I-395 that replaces an older bridge on September 27, 2021 in Miami, Florida. The House of Representatives is expected to vote Thursday in Washington, DC on an infrastructure bill that includes $550 billion in new federal investment in America's infrastructure over five years. The bill designates $40 billion for bridge repair, replacement and rehabilitation. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 775717289 ORIG FILE ID: 1343369484 © Joe Raedle, Getty Images MIAMI, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 27: In an aerial view, construction workers build the “Signature Bridge,” at I-95 and I-395 that replaces an older bridge on September 27, 2021 in Miami, Florida. The House of Representatives is expected to vote Thursday in Washington, DC on an infrastructure bill that includes $550 billion in new federal investment in America's infrastructure over five years. The bill designates $40 billion for bridge repair, replacement and rehabilitation. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 775717289 ORIG FILE ID: 1343369484

More: Meet Pramila Jayapal and Josh Gottheimer, the Democrats leading factions that are at odds over infrastructure

Meet Pramila Jayapal and Josh Gottheimer, the Democrats leading factions that are at odds over infrastructure

  Meet Pramila Jayapal and Josh Gottheimer, the Democrats leading factions that are at odds over infrastructure The Democratic-led House will vote on bipartisan infrastructure legislation Thursday, but two parts of the House Democratic Caucus remain at odds. Your browser does not support this video Moderate and progressive Democrats are working through disagreements on how to proceed ahead of the critical vote. Leading the way? Two powerful House members: Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., a moderate and co-chair of the Problem Solvers Caucus.Start the day smarter. Get all the news you need in your inbox each morning.

Progressives

Progressives are arguing that they should not vote on the $1.2 trillion infrastructure deal without passage of a separate budget bill.

Democrats are still hammering out details of that massive bill, which would include "human infrastructure" priorities such as subsidized child care and provisions to fight climate change.

But it has not passed the Senate yet due to Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Krysten Sinema of Arizona, who have both maintained the current $3.5 trillion price tag is too high.

As a result, Democrats in the House and Senate have been negotiating changes to the bill to bring all Democrats on board.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told reporters Tuesday evening there are dozens within her party who would support the infrastructure bill at a later date — after which the Senate and House would pass the budget bill or at least send out agreements of pripoints and other issues.

Here's what's in the infrastructure bill as it nears a vote in the House

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But they will not vote in favor of the physical infrastructure bill Thursday, despite the problems the larger budget bill currently faces.

Jayapal and other progressives are worried about their leverage with the larger package that includes many progressive domestic priorities. They do not believe House moderates will keep their word in voting for the larger budget bill at a later date if they've already passed the smaller bill.

More: Nancy Pelosi's ability to mend Democratic differences is being put to the test with infrastructure vote

"I don't know what else to trust. I trusted some things before," Jayapal said Tuesday to reporters. "It would be like if you were a detective and you laid out all the clues on the table, and all the clues pointed to the same person who did it, and then you said, 'I'm not going to look at those clues, I'm just going to trust something else.' We're not going to do that."

Progressives have the numbers to tank the vote with their powerful 96-person caucus. If even a handful or dozen of them vote against the bill, it is unlikely there is enough GOP support to fill their place for passage.

The House missed its deadline to pass infrastructure. That doesn't mean the bill has hit a dead end.

  The House missed its deadline to pass infrastructure. That doesn't mean the bill has hit a dead end. The infrastructure measure is on hold while lawmakers work on a deal on a much larger spending bill aimed at expanding social safety net programs.After a marathon negotiating session that involved two centrist Democratic senators – Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona – the infrastructure measure remains on hold until at least Friday as lawmakers try to strike a deal on a much larger spending bill aimed at expanding social safety net programs and addressing climate change.

There are a few House Republicans who have openly said they are currently supporting the legislation, like Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., who confirmed yesterday to USA TODAY he was in favor of it at the moment.

Despite the 19 Senate Republicans who voted to pass it through the upper chamber — and the money it would bring to their districts — House Republican leaders are currently encouraging their members to oppose it. That’s because Democrats, like Jayapal, have been linking it to the larger legislation.

And Democratic House leadership realistically cannot lose more than three Democrats on a vote.

More: Evictions win is latest example of House progressives' influence on Biden. That may affect the infrastructure bill

Moderates

Moderates, on the other hand, have been insisting for weeks that the House should not wait on problems with the budget bill to be ironed out and passed before they vote on the infrastructure bill and send it to Biden's desk.

They are attempting to unlink the two pieces of legislation in hopes of gathering more GOP support.

Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., a moderate and co-chair of the Problem Solvers Caucus, told PBS on Monday "you can't hold one up, this infrastructure bill, while you're working on the other one. That just doesn't make sense for the country."

Infrastructure bill stalls after Democratic leaders fail to wrangle support

  Infrastructure bill stalls after Democratic leaders fail to wrangle support House Democrats huddled behind closed doors to discuss possible paths forward, but emerged with no resolution.House Democrats huddled behind closed doors at the Capitol in caucus meeting since Thursday morning to haggle over the $550 billion infrastructure deal and the $3.5 trillion social spending plan but emerged without a resolution.

Gottheimer and other House moderates have insisted that they would still vote for a budget bill at a later date.

Rep. Josh Gottheimer (R-NJ), left, and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA). © AP Rep. Josh Gottheimer (R-NJ), left, and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA).

Will the vote happen?

So far, House Democratic leadership is saying so. But it's unclear whether that will come to fruition.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said he expects a vote on infrastructure Thursday. "I expect an infrastructure vote tomorrow, yes," he said.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has been pulled in both directions as the progressives and moderates have negotiated for weeks to get their way.

Until Monday, Pelosi sided with progressives, saying the House would not host a vote on the smaller infrastructure package until reconciliation was ironed out.

Monday, the Speaker reversed course, telling her caucus in a closed-door meeting the House could no longer delay a vote on the infrastructure bill as negotiations continue on the bigger bill.

But ironing out all those differences in the next day ahead of the vote is a huge task.

The White House and Democratic leadership have struggled in particular with getting answers from Sinema and what she would like to see in a budget package. She has met daily with members of the Biden administration and the president himself.

Arizona Republic: Two issues shaping Sen. Kyrsten Sinema's approach to budget reconciliation negotiations

If the president can bring Sinema and Manchin onboard with perhaps a smaller budget deal, it could pass the 50-50 Senate with a simple majority — thanks to a special process called reconciliation that allows for spending bills to be expedited by sidestepping typical congressional hold-ups and the filibuster.

After 2 days of Democratic drama, fate of Biden's infrastructure agenda still unclear

  After 2 days of Democratic drama, fate of Biden's infrastructure agenda still unclear After two days of Democratic drama, the fate of President Joe Biden's infrastructure agenda remains unclear. After voting to approve a 30-day extension of federal highway and transit funding, House members were told late Friday that they could return home for a two-week recess. But they were put on 72-hours' notice for the possibility of votes on various legislation, including infrastructure.

Joe Manchin wearing a suit and tie: Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz. © AP Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz.

More: What is 'reconciliation,' and why is it holding up the infrastructure package?

But without their support, passage of a budget bill in the Senate, and better consensus from House Democrats, Thursday's vote on infrastructure is incredibly rocky.

"I'm never bringing a bill to the floor that doesn't have the votes," Pelosi said Sunday on ABC's "This Week With George Stephanopoulos."

Contributing: Ledge King, USA TODAY; The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Why is there so much drama over the infrastructure vote in the House?

Five things you didn't know were in the infrastructure bill .
The Senate passed a massive $1.2 trillion infrastructure package Tuesday, marking a big bipartisan achievement after months of negotiations. © Moriah Ratner/Bloomberg/Getty Images A Lane Transit District (LTD) electric bus in Eugene, Oregon, U.S., on Wednesday, July 14, 2021. The legislation, which still needs to be passed by the House, would provide $550 billion in new federal spending over five years. The new investments would reach far beyond the traditional infrastructure projects for roads, bridges and railroads.

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