Congress passes $1.2-trillion infrastructure package without reconciliation bill

Washington DC – Congress on Friday adopted a $1.2-trillion package aimed at modernizing the country's infrastructure, delaying a House vote on the Build Back Better Act until later this month.

Joe Biden
Joe Biden  © IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

The bipartisan 228-to-206 vote will "create millions of jobs, turn the climate crisis into an opportunity, and put us on a path to win the economic competition for the 21st Century," President Joe Biden said in a statement.

"It will create good-paying jobs that can’t be outsourced. Jobs that will transform our transportation system with the most significant investments in passenger and freight rail, roads, bridges, ports, airports, and public transit in generations," he added.

The bill will replace lead water pipes and make high-speed internet available everywhere in the US, Biden said.

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A network of electric vehicle charging stations across the country will be built.

"We will get America off the sidelines on manufacturing solar panels, wind farms, batteries, and electric vehicles to grow these supply chains, reward companies for paying good wages and for sourcing their materials from here in the United States, and allow us to export these products and technologies to the world."

The bill will now head to the White House for Biden’s signature.

Build Back Better Act yet to be passed

The six members of the Squad were the only House Democrats to vote against the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework.
The six members of the Squad were the only House Democrats to vote against the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework.  © IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

Lawmakers delayed the Build Back Better Act, a broader package aimed at expanding much-needed social programs. They voted to allow for its passage in the House of Representatives later in November.

For months, House progressives have said they would not vote on the bipartisan framework before voting on the Build Back Better Act.

The latter bill is to be passed through a process called reconciliation, which requires only 50 votes rather than the usual 60 in the Senate. That means Democrats could pass it even without any Republican support.

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But Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema refused to get on board, whittling the bill down from the original $6-trillion proposal to a mere $1.75 trillion over ten years.

Progressives seemed to be putting up an unprecedented, united front in refusing to approve the bipartisan bill until the reconciliation bill was also approved. But now, it seems the majority have caved on letting the $1.2-trillion bill go through without the Build Back Better Act, leaving only the Squad to hold out their votes.

Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Cori Bush, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley, and Jamaal Bowman stuck to their promise and voted against passing the bipartisan infrastructure bill.

There is no guarantee now that Democratic holdouts in the Senate will approve the Build Back Better Act, but Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal says she trusts the president to make sure the deal goes through.

The Build Back Better Act "will be a once-in-a-generation investment in our people," Biden said.

"It will lower bills for healthcare, child care, elder care, prescription drugs, and preschool. And middle-class families get a tax cut."

Cover photo: IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

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