House lawmakers passed President Biden’s $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill late Friday night, securing a key victory for his administration and breaking a weeks-long deadlock between moderates and progressives that threatened to derail the legislation. The vote was 228-206, with 13 GOP lawmakers crossing party lines to join Democrats in voting in favor of the legislation.
The bill, which provides funding for physical infrastructure projects such as roads, bridges, water pipes and broadband internet, will now advance to President Biden’s desk for final approval. Senators already voted 69-30 to approve the legislation in August.
"The Squad," a group of high-profile progressive lawmakers, were the only six Democrats to vote against the bill. The group includes Reps. Ilhan Omar, Cori Bush, Jamaal Bowman, Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley.
The legislation passed after months of negotiations, with Democratic leaders working frantically to reach a consensus that satisfied both progressive and moderate holdouts. Talks nearly collapsed on several occasions, including as recently as mere minutes before the vote.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi initially planned to hold votes on both pieces of legislation on Friday. But Pelosi was forced to abandon that schedule after some moderates demanded the Congressional Budget Office "score" the spending bill so they could better assess its financial implications. The scoring process can take several weeks, effectively delaying a vote on the spending bill.
Democratic leaders secured a truce after House moderates pledged to vote for the "Build Back Better Act" as it is currently written no later than the week of Nov. 15. The moderates added that they would work to address any discrepancies that arise between the CBO score and previous spending estimates.
"All of our colleagues have also committed to voting tonight on the rule to move the Build Back Better Act forward to codify this promise. The President has affirmed these members gave him the same commitment," the Congressional Progressive Caucus said in a statement prior to the vote.
"As part of this agreement, at the request of the President, and to ensure we pass both bills through the House, progressives will advance the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the House rule on Build Back Better tonight," the statement added.
Passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill became a key bargaining chip for progressives, who maintained for months they would not pass the infrastructure bill unless Pelosi brought the package up for a vote at the same time as Biden’s $1.75 trillion "Build Back Better Act," which funds social programs and climate action.
As a result, Pelosi opted to hold votes on the bipartisan infrastructure bill and on the procedural "rule" governing the spending bill. The vote to adopt the rule would clear the way for Democratic leaders to bring the spending bill to the House floor, allowing them a measure of progress despite not actually passing the legislation.
But progressives balked at the plan, asserting the House should wait for the CBO to score the spending bill and then vote on both pieces of legislation at once.
"The longer the Build Back Better Act is delayed, the more time corporate interests have to derail these popular, necessary, and long-overdue investments in working people, families, and communities. It’s time to get this done for the people," Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal tweeted Friday afternoon.
Biden, Pelosi and other Democratic leaders scrambled to secure enough progressive votes to pass the infrastructure bill. The president canceled a planned trip to Delaware and was directly involved in negotiations.
House lawmakers will vote to adopt the "rule" immediately after the infrastructure bill vote. With the bipartisan infrastructure bill passed and the "rule" adopted, House leaders will set their sights on a final vote for the spending bill.
Biden and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer both indicated they were confident the spending bill would pass the House by Thanksgiving.
From there, the spending bill would proceed to the Senate, where Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona remain key roadblocks to its passage. All 50 Senate Democrats will have to vote for the bill for it to pass.