Politics Why progressives still aren’t voting for the infrastructure bill
Who are the 6 House Democrats who voted against the infrastructure bill?
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other progressive House Democrats voted against the bipartisan infrastructure bill. Here's why.Their main reason for the down vote: They wanted to pass the bill with its counterpart, a multi-trillion-dollar spending deal called the Build Back Better Act that is still being negotiated in Congress.
Moderate Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) have demanded major cuts to Democrats’ Build Back Better bill, a large climate and social spending package that’s been in the works for months. Progressives fear further cuts — and some worry the bill might be abandoned altogether — if Manchin and Sinema can’t be compelled to accept the $1.75 trillion spending proposal currently on offer.
Their strategy to pin the senators down was on display Thursday, when the Congressional Progressive Caucus refused to move forward on a bipartisan infrastructure bill without a simultaneous vote on Democrats’ larger social spending bill. Because House Democrats have a narrow three-person margin, any major defections can sink legislation.
House Progressives and moderates united to pass a massive infrastructure deal
Democrats passed a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, but their larger climate and social spending bill is still in doubt.The result was a major step forward for President Joe Biden’s agenda, but a blow to progressives who’ve long pushed for the two bills to be tied together. Progressives were able to extract a commitment from House moderates to vote for the spending measure by November 15, although that pledge came with an important caveat.
Progressive members have for weeks demanded that the votes on the two bills be held together. They worry that Manchin and Sinema — who back the infrastructure package — could completely abandon the budget bill should infrastructure advance on its own, given their longstanding opposition to the size of the measure and to several of the policies it contains.
The best way to guarantee that Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin support the President’s framework is for the Build Back Better Act to pass in the Senate first.
The people — not just some, but ALL of our people — must win.— Cori Bush (@CoriBush)
To ensure the two senators support the spending package, progressives are using the bipartisan bill as leverage: In order to pass one, Democrats need to get on board with passing the other as well. Tying the two votes together is also a way to prevent moderate lawmakers from whittling down the spending bill even further. The sooner moderates agree to the latest spending proposal numbers, the sooner they’ll get their vote on infrastructure.
Progressives Have to Lose for Democrats to Win on Biden Agenda
Democrats are finally nearing the end on a legacy-defining win for President Joe Biden and the party. But for them to cross the finish line, progressives will have to accept a bill that’s far less than what they wanted—handing a win to moderates like Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ)—while the left swallows yet another social welfare spending half-loaf. And yet, they’re happy to do it. For the most part. “I got aAnd yet, they’re happy to do it. For the most part.
“Congress needs to finish the job and bring both bills to a vote together,” the Congressional Progressive Caucus wrote in a statement explaining their stance. “There is too much at stake for working families and our communities to settle for something that can be later misunderstood, amended, or abandoned altogether.”
Progressive pressure on Thursday secured an infrastructure vote delay, which marked a win for them. It also followed a loss: The latest version of the spending bill, which progressives have announced they’d accept, includes some serious cuts. The plan, released by the White House Thursday, doesn’t include many of their key priorities, including paid family leave and Medicare’s ability to negotiate prescription drug prices.
Despite this, they appear to have now decided to take what they can. They want Manchin and Sinema to do the same and hope to use what leverage they have into making sure they do so.
House infrastructure bill: 13 Republicans who voted for it and six Democrats who voted against
Thirteen House Republicans joined Democrats to vote in favor of the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act late Friday night, sending the legislation to President Joe Biden’s desk nearly three months after it passed in the Senate. © Provided by Washington Examiner At the same time, six liberal House Democrats voted against the bill, making good on a longtime pledge that they would vote against the legislation unless there was also a vote on Democrats’ sweeping reconciliation social spending bill that started at $3.5 trillion but has been scaled back to $1.75 trillion.
What progressives hope to gain in the next week
Progressives called for the infrastructure vote delay for two reasons: They wanted specifics about the text of the social spending legislation, and they wanted direct assurances from Manchin and Sinema that they’d vote to pass the social spending bill.
A core issue at play is a lack of trust: Because of how many cuts Manchin and Sinema have already demanded to key Democratic priorities (including reducing prescription drug prices, increases to the corporate tax rate, and eliminating the Clean Energy Performance Program), progressives are wary of their support for the Biden framework. Additionally, neither senator has publicly said they support the framework. That has progressives concerned since Democrats have approved a budget resolution framework before only to have the legislation itself stall.
“I don’t owe them my trust, and they don’t owe me theirs,”. “Let us see the vote. ... That’s how we know where you stand.”
Progressives’ concerns weren’t assuaged after the release of President Joe Biden’s $1.75 trillion framework for the legislation. While the CPC publicly endorsed the measure in principle, both Manchin and Sinema issued positive statements about negotiations without any concrete commitments.
Joe Biden's Remarkable Week May Just Rescue His Presidency
A week ago Biden was staring into the abyss. By Saturday morning, the story was almost entirely different. Biden was able to celebrate "infrastructure week," making a dig at Donald Trump after the House passed the infrastructure bill with GOP support on Friday evening. Suddenly it was the Republicans who were at each other's throats, while in the Democratic Party, a Biden-brokered truce between moderates and progressives opened the door for yet more legislation."It was always likely that the Democrats would eventually reach sufficient agreement to pass the infrastructure bill," Quirk told Newsweek.
“As we work through the text of the legislation, I would hope all of us will continue to deal in good faith and do what is right for the future of the American people,”.
“I look forward to getting this done, expanding economic opportunities and helping everyday families get ahead,”
I’ve lost count of how many interactions with reporters that Sen. Manchin has had today. His unwillingness to just come out and say he supports a WH framework - that was negotiated more directly with him than probably any other lawmaker - seems notable.— Garrett Haake (@GarrettHaake)
Progressives want a guarantee that all Democratic senators are actually on board with this bill, and that Manchin or Sinema won’t blow up the framework. They’ve already seen this process play out once: Democrats in both the House and the Senate passed a $3.5 trillion budget resolution, but both moderates balked at moving forward with that price tag and many of its components.
“We need to have certainty, either through legislative text, through … agreements … that we can trust,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) told reporters Thursday.
The caucus’s demand for legislative text has led to results. In an effort to convince progressives to consider a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill, the House Rules Committee releasedof tentative text on Thursday. That text didn’t wind up being enough for a vote because, as with the framework, Manchin and Sinema have yet to agree to it.
Voters oppose holding infrastructure hostage
In the view of those surveyed, if representatives believe that the infrastructure bill is good for Americans, they should vote for it. If they don’t, they should vote against it. The poll results suggest that it will be very hard for both Democrats and Republicans to defend any other position in next year's midterm congressional elections.Keith Allred is the Executive Director of the National Institute for Civil Discourse (NICD) and a former professor of negotiation and conflict resolution at the Harvard Kennedy School. In 2011, the University of Arizona created NICD with founding honorary co-chairs George H.W.
Jayapal noted Thursday that progressives would support adding policies back into the legislation that were stripped out of Biden’s framework, like paid family leave and Medicare expansion provisions. She said, however, that progressive support for the framework was not contingent on these additions and that they stood behind the endorsement they’ve made.
Progressives won and lost this week
Thursday marked the second time progressives successfully blocked a vote on infrastructure over concerns about the spending bill. This time, they faced increased pressure from congressional leaders to reverse their position, in order to send Biden off to his coming G20 climate meetings with a legislative win to tout.
But the caucus held firm.
Originally, progressives had identified five broad areas where they wanted investments: the care economy, affordable housing, climate jobs, a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients, and reductions to prescription drug prices. The original $3.5 trillion version of the spending bill included many of these issues, but because of Manchin’s and Sinema’s concerns, multiple areas were significantly cut back or dropped entirely.
Biden’s new $1.75 trillion framework ultimately invests heavily in early childhood education and climate but does not include a major provision to help reduce prescription drug prices, a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients, or paid family leave.
And areas that survived cuts still saw dramatic reductions in spending. For example, Democrats’ original budget measure contained $450 billion for long-term home care and $332 billion for affordable housing. Biden’s framework, meanwhile, includes $150 billion for the former and $150 billion for the latter.
Democrats squabble, scramble to meet self-imposed deadline. Why this week is vital for Biden.
Democrats still differ over what to strip out of Biden's budget bill, which is likely to be much smaller than the initial $3.5 trillion Biden pitched.House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., earlier this month, set a new deadline of Oct. 31 for the House to pass a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill and achieve consensus on a bigger budget bill that includes a number of liberal policies like subsidizing child care and fighting climate change. .
Sinema has opposed enabling Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices, likely killing it. A pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients also isn’t expected to make it into the legislation because of the rules governing the budget reconciliation process and the Senate parliamentarian’s existing ruling advising against its inclusion. And paid family leave has run into opposition from Manchin, who’s worried that the policy would be too burdensome for businesses.
Biden’s framework still has about $100 billion allocated for immigration reform, though it’s unclear whether it will make it past this procedural hurdle. Democrats’ latest pitch to the parliamentarian will focus on issues like the legal visa backlog and a shield from deportation for some unauthorized immigrants, the. Lawmakers are also still finagling some of the details for the bill, leaving the door open for the possible return of some policies.
Progressives back the framework even with the existing omissions. In its current state, it includes several of their demands on child care subsidies, funding for clean energy tax credits, and a Civilian Climate Corps. Additionally, they argue that the talks on the bill wouldn’t have even happened without the pressure they’ve put on Democratic leadership and moderate lawmakers.
“The reality is that while talks around the infrastructure bill lasted months in the Senate, there has only been serious discussion around the specifics of the larger Build Back Better Act in recent weeks, thanks to the Progressive Caucus holding the line and putting both parts of the agenda back on the table,” the CPC said.
Although they are standing their ground on legislation timing, they appear willing to accept the policy concessions that have already been made. “We wanted a $3.5 trillion package, but we understand the reality of the situation,” said Jayapal.
Americans want new infrastructure — and they're willing to pay for it .
They believe that those who use infrastructure should pay for it but believe equally that the federal and state governments, through taxes, should also fund our infrastructure. I recently conducted a survey of 1,000 Americans through the Development Research Institute at New York University to examine Americans' attitudes and opinions about key infrastructure issues. Sixty-eight percent reported they were willing to pay more in exchange for safer and more reliable infrastructure.