$1.2 Trillion Infrastructure Bill Passed by House While Vote on ‘Build Back Better’ Postponed

By Jonathan Walker | November 8, 2021
Jonathan loves talking politics, economics and philosophy. He carries unique perspectives on everything making him a rather odd mix of liberal-conservative with a streak of independent Austrian thought.
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WASHINGTON, DC - NOV. 06: U.S. President Joe Biden speaks alongside Vice President Kamala Harris during a press conference in the State Dining Room at the White House on November 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. The President is speaking after his Infrastructure bill was finally passed in the House of Representatives after negotiations with lawmakers on Capitol Hill went late into the night. (Image: Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

On Nov. 5, the House voted to pass the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, sending it over to President Joe Biden to sign into law. The bill was passed 228-206, with 13 Republican lawmakers joining the Democrat push for approving the legislation. Six Democrats voted against the bill.

The infrastructure bill includes around $550 billion in new spending, setting aside $110 billion for bridges, roads and other projects, $66 billion for freight and passenger rail, $65 billion for broadband, $55 billion for water systems, and $39 billion for public transit. The Senate had passed the bill back in August. 

The infrastructure bill originally cost $3.5 trillion and was later cut down by more than half to $1.2 trillion after moderate Democrats pushed for the reduction. Republicans have accused the bill of being too expensive. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the bill will add $256 billion to federal deficits over a ten-year period.

President Joe Biden called the passage of the bill  a “monumental step forward as a nation.” The president stated that the legislation will create “millions of jobs” and turn the climate crisis into an “opportunity,” putting America on a path to win the 21st century’s “economic competition.”

Democrats wanted to pass the $1.2 trillion legislation together with the $1.75 trillion Build Back Better (BBB) bill that will spend money on social safety and climate issues. House Speaker Democrat Nancy Pelosi wanted to hold a vote on both the bills on Friday.

However, Pelosi was forced to postpone the vote for BBB after a group of moderate Democrats sought 72 hours to analyze the bill. The moderates also wanted to review the CBO and Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) scores of the BBB legislation to understand the “true cost” of the program. Moreover, they wanted the Senate to confirm that no additional changes will be made to the bill in the meantime.

Eventually, the progressive and moderate Democrats reached an agreement to put the Build Back Better bill up for a vote “no later than the week of November 15,” according to Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal.

The support of 13 Republicans for the House vote on the infrastructure bill has attracted criticism from within the party. This is because many believe passing the infrastructure bill will set the stage to vote for BBB. Democrats plan on using the budget reconciliation process on Build Back Better which would allow them to pass it without having to get support from Republican lawmakers.

“The reality remains that the infrastructure bill and reconciliation package are linked and cannot be viewed separately. A vote for the infrastructure bill is a vote that paves the way for an extreme reconciliation spending bill,” Republican Representative Darin LaHood said in a statement. He had voted against the infrastructure bill in the House.

Former President Donald Trump lashed out at Senate Republicans and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell who had voted in favor of the bill back in August. 19 GOP members had supported the bill at the time despite facing opposition from several conservative Republicans. 

Trump argued that Democrats will manipulate Republicans to get the BBB passed as well. In a statement, he referred to the Republican lawmakers who supported the bill as RINO or “Republicans in name only.”

“All Republicans who voted for Democrat longevity should be ashamed of themselves, in particular Mitch McConnell, for granting a two-month stay which allowed the Democrats time to work things out at our Country’s, and the Republican Party’s, expense!” Trump said.