Democrats saved President Joe Biden’s faltering national agenda on Friday, adopting a giant infrastructure package that is one of the pillars of his $ 3 trillion economic vision after moderate rebels previously blocked a vote on its expansion of social protection.
Despite hours spent cajoling lawmakers, party leaders risked seeing Biden’s two-pronged legislative strategy crumble as they failed to unite the warring party’s progressive and moderate factions.
But the breakthrough came when lawmakers approved the Senate’s $ 1.2 trillion infrastructure bill passed on the House floor by a comfortable 228 to 206 votes.
The passage of infrastructure spending marks a legacy achievement for Biden, amid plunging personal approval ratings and a humiliating and upsetting defeat for his Democratic Party in the Virginia gubernatorial election.
Its spokesperson, Jen Psaki, said the success was “proof that delivering for the American people is worth making painful sausages.”
“Clean water for the kids, high speed access, electric vehicles, the biggest investment in public transport. It’s happening. And more to come,” she tweeted. .
The party leadership in the House of Representatives started the day with the aim of approving the infrastructure bill, the biggest improvement to roads, bridges and waterways in decades, after sending an agreement to even more important social protection, worth up to $ 1.85 trillion, to the upper house. .
But six moderate Democrats have refused to commit to the ‘Build Back Better’ benefits package, arguing that they must first see a full account of its economic impacts, which will not be available for at least a week. .
With a majority of just three votes in the House, President Nancy Pelosi was forced to postpone the vote on the Build Back Better package, which includes major investments in health, education, the fight against climate change and the expansion of social protection programs.
Progressives initially blocked the vote on infrastructure, suspecting that Senate centrists would reject the Build Back Better bill as soon as they got their transportation upgrades enacted.
But Pelosi refused to back down, insisting on the vote before the day’s end and offering the Liberals an olive branch – a procedural vote on the “rule” to at least start the debate on Build Back Better.
“I urge all members to vote for both the Build Back Better Act review rule and the final passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill tonight,” Biden said in a late evening statement. .
“I am confident that during the week of November 15, the House will pass the Build Back Better Act.”
The victory will be a balm for Democratic leaders who have spent two days in meetings painstakingly trying to bring on board the reluctance on several sticking points in Build Back Better, from prescription drug pricing to immigration arrangements. .
Passing the infrastructure package into law required tricky math with several progressives, still angry at the moderate rebellion, voting no – but Democrats were able to add 13 Republicans to their side of the ledger.
After four years of failed ‘infrastructure weeks’ under the control of Trump and the Republicans, President Biden has kept his promise to work across the aisle and make a historic investment in our infrastructure. country, ”said Jaime Harrison, chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
Biden, who spent much of Thursday and Friday on the phone convening lawmakers, watched the vote in the official residence after strategizing with his political and legislative teams, including Vice President Kamala Harris, according to a responsible for the White House.
Pelosi had twice tried in recent weeks to push forward the two mega-bills, but was forced to postpone votes on infrastructure as progressives, unhappy with the lack of commitment to their priorities, refused to pledge their support.
Biden is counting on a rebound in the vote, 10 months after arriving at the White House by promising the pandemic-devastated nation that he would “rebuild better” – only to see his popularity plunge.
The infrastructure package that passes before the weekend marks an unambiguous, resounding and immediate victory for the 78-year-old former senator, who touts his ability to cross the aisle.
By funding work on roads, bridges and ports and high-speed internet, the White House says it would create millions of well-paying jobs.
Build Back Better, on the other hand, does not have the Senate’s blessing and is likely to be drastically reduced and subject to further arduous votes in the upper house, even if it advances from the House.
“It will not be passed as is. Everyone has to sit down with it and feel comfortable with it,” Democratic Montana Senator Jon Tester told Politico.
The votes ended months of tense negotiations on Capitol Hill since the Senate approved the infrastructure package in August, giving it bipartisan support rare in Washington’s polarized political atmosphere.
However, most House Republicans refused their support after former President Donald Trump threatened retaliation for helping Biden achieve a political victory.
(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)