House Democrats are scrambling Friday to break a weeks-long stalemate on a bipartisan infrastructure package - a debate that's exposed fierce rifts between moderates and progressives that are threatening to tank President Biden's ambitious domestic agenda.On two occasions this week, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) had promised moderates a vote on a $1.2 trillion infrastructure package, only to punt it in the face of entrenched opposition from liberals, who are first demanding a commitment from Senate centrists to back a larger, multitrillion-dollar social benefits package.
After weeks of wrangling, the Senate on Tuesday passed a $1.1 trillion infrastructure bill with Republican support, in a big win for Democrats and President Joe Biden.
The measure passed by a vote of 69-30, with 19 Republicans joining all Senate Democrats to advance the bill out of the Senate chamber.
In a sign of its political significance, Vice President Kamala Harris presided over the final vote.
Republicans Roy Blunt, Richard Burr, Shelley Moore Capito, Susan Collins, Deb Fischer, Lindsey Graham, Rob Portman, Thom Tillis, Chuck Grassley, Mitt Romney, Dan Sullivan, Mike Crapo, Lisa Murkowski, James Risch, Bill Cassidy, Kevin Cramer, Roger Wicker, John Hoeven and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell joined Democrats in voting yes.
Dem Reps Blast Nancy Pelosi For Breaking Commitment to Hold Infrastructure Vote
Representative Josh Gottheimer accused progressives of using "Freedom Caucus tactics" to delay a vote.Pelosi postponed a vote scheduled for Thursday after progressive Democrats had suggested they would not vote for it unless it was linked to a separate $3.5 trillion infrastructure package. President Joe Biden visited the Capitol on Friday to meet with Democrats about the bill but no vote took place.
The package, with $550 billion in new spending, will address core infrastructure needs. It includes $110 billion in new funds for roads and bridges, $66 billion for rail, $7.5 billion to build out electric vehicle charging stations, $17 billion for ports, $25 billion for airports, $55 billion for clean drinking water, a $65 billion investment in high-speed internet and more.
Passage represents a major victory for senators from both parties who said they were committed to showing Congress could work in a bipartisan way, as well as for President Joe Biden, who campaigned on a promise to work across the aisle.
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.
Biden's first reaction to the passage came via Twitter and sent a strong signal to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that he does not want the House to delay a vote.
"Big news, folks: The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal has officially passed the Senate. I hope Congress will send it to my desk as soon as possible so we can continue our work of building back better," Biden tweeted.
The package took months to forge, with bipartisan negotiators Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., and Portman of Ohio, a Republican, leading a group of ten colleagues in discussions that led to the final package.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer praised the package in remarks just before the final vote, saying, "We have persisted and now we have arrived. There were many logs in our path, detours along the way, but the American people will now see the most robust injection of funds into infrastructure in decades."
Congress is still at odds over Biden's infrastructure, budget plan. What would a deal mean for the president?
Biden told House Democrats his $3.5 trillion budget bill must be reduced to pass the Senate. The White House says it will remain 'historic.'But after days of intense negotiations failed to bridge an agreement heading into the weekend, Biden faces increasing pressure to show that Democrats can deliver.
"When the Senate is run with an open hand rather than a closed fist senators can accomplish big things," he added.
The bill now heads to the House, where it faces a precarious path to Biden's desk.
Pelosi, who leads a razor-thin majority of Democrats in the House, has made clear she has no intention of bringing the bipartisan bill to a vote until the Senate sends over a second, larger budget bill containing the rest of President Biden's "American Families Plan" priorities.
MORE: Senate votes to start debate on $1.1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure deal
The debate of the budget will be far different from the bipartisanship in the debate over infrastructure.
Democrats unveiled their $3.5 trillion budget that includes universal pre-K, free 2-year community college, paid family leave, climate initiatives and a smattering of other social priorities, on Monday morning.
With the bipartisan bill off their plate, Senate Democrats are turning their attention immediately to passing the budget bill, and they're expected to try to force the massive package through the Senate as early as tomorrow, without a single GOP vote. Budget bills are not subject to the regular 60-vote threshold generally necessary to move legislation forward.
Bitterness festers as Democrats try again to pass Biden's economic agenda
MORE: Universal pre-K, free community college tuition: What's in $3.5T budget bill
Republicans have vowed to fight the budget resolution at every step, including through what is expected to be a marathon of votes this week on partisan amendments designed to score political points and make centrist Democrats squirm.
McConnell conceded Tuesday morning there will be little Republicans can do to stop the budget from advancing if Democrats keep a united front, but he promised a fight on the Senate floor.
"Republicans do not currently have the vote to spare American families this nightmare," McConnell said of the $3.5 trillion bill. "But we will debate and we will vote and we will stand up and we will be counted and the people of this country will know exactly which senators fought for them."
MORE: The long and winding road to an infrastructure bill: Reporter's notebook
Senate action on the budget this week is just the first in a series of steps before the bill comes to a final vote in the Senate and moves to the House, likely in the fall.
Pelosi said only then, after the full budget process is completed, will she bring both the budget bill and the bipartisan infrastructure bill up for a final vote in the House.
Universal pre-K, free community college tuition: What's in $3.5T budget bill .
Universal pre-K and 2-years free community college tuition part of the $3.5 trillion budget resolution targeting social issues that Democrats unveiled Monday. The legislative language comes just as the Senate is preparing to complete its work on a separate $1.1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill late Monday or early Tuesday morning. Taken together, the bills are designed to comprise the whole of Biden's American Families Plan priorities.