House passes $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill that includes transport, broadband and utility funding, sends it to Biden

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  • The House passed a more than $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, sending it to President Joe Biden for his signature.
  • The law would put $550 billion in new funding in transportation, broadband and utilities.
  • The bill passed after a last-minute scramble to reach a consensus between progressives and centrists on how to pass an infrastructure package and a larger Democratic social spending plan.

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The House passed a more than $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill late Friday, sending it to President Joe Biden’s table as a significant step toward implementing Democratic economic plans.

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The Senate approved reform of transportation, utilities and broadband in August. The passage of the law is perhaps the most tangible achievement of a unified Democratic government since it approved a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package in the spring.

The measure passed in a vote of 228-206. Thirteen Republicans supported it, while six Democrats voted against it. Biden could sign the bill in a matter of days.

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Washington has tried and failed to pass a major bill to upgrade critical transportation and utility infrastructure, which has come under increased pressure from extreme weather. The White House has also argued that passage of the bill could help goods move forward as supply-chain barriers contribute to higher prices for American consumers.

The vote Friday came a day after wrangling over how to implement the two planks of the party’s agenda. The months-long struggle of party leaders to get progressives and centrists – who have different views of the government’s role in the economy – behind a single bill is an example of a tussle.

Democrats entered the day planning to pass both infrastructure legislation and the party’s massive $1.75 trillion social safety net and climate package. Demands by a handful of centrists to see the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate of the budgetary effects of the social spending plan delayed its approval. Progressives sought assurance that the holdouts would support the larger resolution if they voted for the infrastructure bill.

After hours of talks – and a Biden urging lawmakers to roll back the infrastructure bill at a progressive caucus meeting – the party’s liberal wing received assurances from centrists that they would support the larger package. The Social and Climate Plan cleared a significant procedural hurdle on Saturday morning.

Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., said the group reached an agreement to support the infrastructure plan in exchange for a commitment to take up the safety-net bill “no later than the week of November 15.” A group of five centrists issued a separate statement saying they would support the Build Back Better legislation pending the CBO score, which acknowledges their concerns about the long-term budget deficit.

In a statement after the House vote, Biden said the legislation would “create millions of jobs, turn the climate crisis into an opportunity, and set us on the path to winning economic competitiveness for the 21st century.” He also said that the procedural vote on the second Democratic bill “would allow my Build Back Better Act to be passed in the House of Representatives in the week of November 15.th

The House is out of Washington next week, and it could take CBO days or weeks to produce a score of legislation.

CNBC Politics

Read more about CNBC’s politics coverage:

  • Trump aides Michael Flynn, Jason Miller, John Eastman summoned in Jan. 6 House investigation
  • As the bipartisan infrastructure bill passes, here’s what lies ahead for Biden’s economic plans
  • White House tells businesses to go ahead with vaccine mandate despite court order stay

The bills together form the core of Biden’s domestic agenda. Democrats see the plans as complementary pieces designed to boost the economy, shock the job market, provide a layer of insurance to working families, and curb climate change.

Biden and Democrats are looking for a signature achievement they can point to as the president’s approval rating flag as the 2022 midterm campaign mark. Biden will welcome developments on Friday, as the bill’s House passes a strong October jobs report and the approval of Pfizer’s COVID vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 in the US.

While Biden may soon sign the infrastructure bill, the safety net and climate package are likely to take weeks.

The House will have to wait for the CBO score. The Senate could pass a different version of the plan, which would require another House vote. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has set a Thanksgiving target for passing the big Democratic bill.

The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will inject $550 billion of new money into transportation projects, utility grids and broadband. The package includes $110 billion for roads, bridges and other major projects, $66 billion for passenger and freight rail, and $39 billion for public transportation.

It would put $65 billion in broadband, a priority for many lawmakers, after highlighting inequalities in internet access for homes and students across the country. The legislation would also invest $55 billion in water systems, including efforts to replace lead pipes.

Before the vote, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told MSNBC that “the moment the President signs it, it’s over for our Department of Transportation to get out there on the pieces and deliver.” Big projects can take years to complete after Congress funds.

Republicans helped write the bill in the Senate, and it garnered 19 GOP votes in the chamber. Many congressional Republicans opposed the plan because they linked it too closely to the Democrats’ larger proposal, which they are passing without Republicans going through the budget reconciliation process.

Many Democrats considered the infrastructure bill inadequate because it did not address issues including child care, pre-K education, Medicare expansion, and increased child tax credits. Those policies, priorities for Biden and top Democrats, made it into the House version of the Social Safety Net bill.

Democratic leaders tied the proposals together in an effort to keep centrists and progressives on board with both plans. A thorny legislative process has unfolded over the months as Democrats try to get different groups with different perspectives of the federal government’s role in the economy to back both packages.

Friday’s chaos was only the latest stumbling block in the process of approving the bills.

“Well, the whole day was a clusterf***, okay,” Progressive Representative Mark Pokan, D-Vis., said Friday night.

Still, he said lawmakers acted “intuitively” to try to reach a solution.

Many Democrats will be relieved by the passage of a bill after a chaotic day – and a feat that has kept Washington away for years.

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