After deal with moderates, House Democrats move forward on $3.5 trillion budget

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The House moved forward on a $3.5 trillion budget plan Tuesday, as the Democratic leadership tries to keep its members united around President Biden’s agenda.

The 220-212 vote was delayed after a group of 10 moderate Democrats said they would not vote yes on the budget until House Speaker Nancy Pelosi held a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure deal that passed the Senate earlier this month. After negotiations, Pelosi said she was committed to passing the bipartisan deal by Sept. 27. Every House Democrat voted in favor of the bill, including the holdouts.

The bipartisan deal, negotiated by moderates in the Senate, contains about $550 billion in new money to spend on roads, bridges, waterways, public transit, railways, the power grid and broadband internet. Lawmakers from the progressive wing of the party have cited its lack of provisions related to climate, many of which are contained in the larger budget deal.

President Biden discusses the situation in Afghanistan at the White House Tuesday. (
President Biden discusses the situation in Afghanistan at the White House on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

“Passing an infrastructure bill is always exciting for what it means in terms of jobs and commerce in our country,” Pelosi said in a statement following the vote. “Now more than ever, it also has to be a part of protecting our environment."

Biden called Pelosi’s efforts “masterful” in remarks Tuesday afternoon, praising the budget deal.

“These investments are going to lower out-of-pocket expenses of families, and not just give them a little more breathing room,” Biden said. “Instead of giving every break in the world to corporations and CEOs, we can ask corporations and the very wealthy just to pay their fair share, so we can invest in making our country stronger and more competitive.”

Biden thanked every member of the House, saying, “There were differences. Strong points of view. They’re always welcome. What’s important is that we came together to advance our agenda.”

Pelosi has repeatedly stated that she would not hold a vote on the bipartisan deal in the House until the Senate had also moved on the budget resolution. The Congressional Progressive Caucus said earlier this month that a survey of its 96 members found that a majority would not pass one without the other. After the vote Tuesday, CPC Chairwoman Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., released a statement saying that remained its position.

“Our position remains unchanged: We will work to first pass the Build Back Better reconciliation bill, so we can deliver these once-in-a-generation, popular and urgently needed investments to poor and working families, and then pass the infrastructure bill to invest in our roads, bridges and waterways,” Jayapal said. “As our members have made clear for three months, the two are integrally tied together, and we will only vote for the infrastructure bill after passing the reconciliation bill.”

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi leaves a meeting with fellow House Democrats Monday at the U.S. Capitol.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi leaves a meeting with fellow House Democrats on Monday at the Capitol. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

It sets up a busy September and an accelerated timetable for the Senate, which needs to negotiate a budget agreement amenable to the moderates in the caucus — such as Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz. All 50 Democratic votes are needed for it to pass the chamber. With thin margins in the House, Pelosi cannot afford any defections either.

The initial $3.5 trillion budget proposal would result in a transformation of the country’s social safety net, including provisions that would expand Medicare coverage, institute universal pre-K, fund elder care and establish a Civilian Climate Corps, with some of the funding coming via higher taxes on corporations and Americans making over $400,000.

The group of House moderates, led by Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., celebrated the deadline after the vote.

“This is a big win for America and will help get people to work and shovels in the ground,” the group said in a statement. “We have established a path forward that ensures we can pass this once-in-a-century infrastructure investment by September 27th, allowing us to create millions of jobs and bring our nation into the 21st century.”


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