House Democrats voted Tuesday to move forward with President Joe Biden’s top legislative priorities after resolving a standoff between leadership and centrist rebels, who threatened to block the multitrillion-dollar safety net expansion. The House voted 220 to 212 to pass the “rule” and instruct committees to write the $3.5 trillion bill, which can pass both chambers without any Republican support. To placate the centrist Democratic holdouts, Speaker Nancy Pelosi committed to a Sept. 27 deadline to vote on the $550 billion Senate-passed infrastructure bill. Before the vote, President Biden and his senior staff called a variety of House members, including centrist skeptics, to advocate for Speaker Pelosi’s plan, stressing that both the infrastructure and budget bills are critical to his agenda, a White House official said.
All of the Democrats backed the vote, and no Republican supported the measure.
But while moderate Democrats secured a date certain to vote on the infrastructure bill, that doesn’t necessarily mean it will pass the House by September 27th if the larger budget bill isn’t done by then. Although the procedural vote was a win for President Biden, the last-minute clash provided a glimpse into the challenges that await Democrats as they aim to write a sprawling spending bill and pass it with wafer-thin majorities in both chambers. They have three votes to spare in the House and none in the Senate.
Progressive Caucus chair Jayapal: "Our position remains unchanged: we will work to first pass the Build Back Better reconciliation bill… and then pass the infrastructure bill." pic.twitter.com/p4RmvcXz7Y
— Andrew Solender (@AndrewSolender) August 24, 2021
At the heart of the standoff is a bid for leverage over the multitrillion-dollar bill. Progressives want to pass a sweeping expansion of the safety net, paid for with tax hikes on corporations and the wealthy. Centrist Democrats are leery of the $3.5 trillion price tag and more skeptical of some taxes. They’re eager to pass the separate infrastructure package into law and bank a bipartisan victory.
Tim Ryan bringing the 🔥 once again on the House Floor about infrastructure:
“Once again Republican Party is MIA”pic.twitter.com/foiQjT95qR
— Wu-Tang Is For The Children (@WUTangKids) August 24, 2021
Speaker Pelosi held meetings late into Monday night as she faced a mutiny from a group of nine moderates. The lawmakers insisted that the $550 billion infrastructure bill get an immediate vote and be signed into law before they start crafting the larger bill.
220-212: House votes along party lines to pass the Democrats' $3.5T budget resolution.Members also approved a rule allowing for a vote on the Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure bill by Sept. 27th and to take up a voting rights bill named for late Rep. John Lewis later today. pic.twitter.com/VqTpb37CtH
— Craig Caplan (@CraigCaplan) August 24, 2021
The procedural motion also paved the way for the House to vote on the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act as early as Tuesday. The legislation would require states with a recent history of discrimination to receive federal “preclearance” to make changes to their voting laws.