House passes $1 trillion infrastructure bill, advances social spending plan

House Democrats late Friday night clinched a long-sought victory on President BidenJoe BidenCarville advises Democrats to 'quit being a whiny party' Wendy Sherman takes leading role as Biden's 'hard-nosed' Russia negotiator Sullivan: 'It's too soon to tell' if Texas synagogue hostage situation part of broader extremist threat MORE’s domestic agenda, passing a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill — while advancing an even larger social spending package — after months of stubborn infighting that’s bedeviled the party and helped deflate Biden’s public standing.

The back-to-back votes came after progressives caved on a key demand they’d maintained for months: their insistence that the climate and social spending package be passed on the same day as the more popular infrastructure proposal. 

On Friday they shed that stipulation, threw their weight behind the public works bill — which had already passed the Senate — and helped send it along to Biden’s desk. They ultimately agreed to a procedural vote on the social spending bill, short of full passage.

ADVERTISEMENT

The tally on the infrastructure bill was 228-206, with 13 Republicans crossing the aisle to support the measure, and six progressive Democrats bucking Biden and party leaders to register their opposition to a process that left the fate of the larger bill up in the air.    

The House then adopted a procedural rule establishing floor debate parameters for the $1.75 trillion social spending package along party lines, 221-213. 

Biden praised the House action on both measures, calling passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill "a monumental step forward" and emphasized that he looked forward to "signing both of these bills into law."

During a speech at the White House on Saturday morning, Biden said passage of the infrastructure bill was "long overdue" and he would sign it "soon." He said he would wait at least until after the weekend to enact it, to allow key lawmakers who helped get it over the finish line to attend a signing ceremony.

“We did something that’s long overdue, that long has been talked about in Washington but never actually been done,” Biden said, casting the bill as a transformative measure that will reshape the U.S. transportation system and create jobs.

The president also sought to project confidence on the path forward for the larger spending package.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Let me be clear: We will pass this in the House, and we will pass it in the Senate," Biden said, insisting the bill will be be “fully paid for” and “ease inflationary pressures.”

Getting the infrastructure bill passed in the House required a long day of tense negotiations on Friday, marathon meetings and general chaos that eroded only after the feuding factions — liberals and moderates — huddled in a late-night meeting to hash out a written agreement that broke the progressive blockade on the infrastructure bill. 

“The whole day was a clusterf---, right? But beyond that, you know … I thought everyone was working in a very congenial way,” one of the Congressional Progressive Caucus leaders, Rep. Mark PocanMark William PocanDemocrats livid over GOP's COVID-19 attacks on Biden With Build Back Better, Dems aim to correct messaging missteps Dems brace for score on massive Biden bill MORE (D-Wis.), said after a fruitful closed-door meeting with moderate negotiators. 

“I mean, rank-and-file members figured out how to get shit done."

The result of those talks was a written commitment from five moderate Democrats — Reps. Josh GottheimerJoshua (Josh) GottheimerDemocrats gain edge from New Jersey Redistricting Commission-approved maps Progressives look to regroup after Build Back Better blowup Transformational legislation should be bipartisan again MORE (N.J.), Ed CaseEdward (Ed) CaseMORE (Hawaii), Stephanie MurphyStephanie MurphyClyburn says he's worried about losing House, 'losing this democracy' On The Trail: Retirements offer window into House Democratic mood Florida Democrats call on DeSantis to accept federal help to expand COVID-19 testing MORE (Fla.), Kathleen RiceKathleen Maura RiceRapper French Montana talks opioid epidemic, immigration on Capitol Hill Five takeaways: House passes Biden's sweeping benefits bill Dems brace for score on massive Biden bill MORE (N.Y.) and Kurt SchraderWalter (Kurt) Kurt SchraderHouse passes bill to strengthen shipping supply chain Five takeaways: House passes Biden's sweeping benefits bill House passes giant social policy and climate measure MORE (Ore.) — to support the social spending package if the yet-to-be released cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is consistent with a White House analysis, no later than the week of Nov. 15. 

If the two tallies don’t mesh, the moderates said they "remain committed to working to resolve any discrepancies in order to pass the Build Back Better legislation." 

The Congressional Progressive Caucus leader, Rep. Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalSanders, 50 Democrats unveil bill to send N95 masks to all Americans Centrist Democrats urge progressives to tamp down rhetoric Democrats eager to fill power vacuum after Pelosi exit MORE (D-Wash.), issued a statement in turn affirming that her members would back the two measures on Friday.

The relative dearth of Republicans backing the public works bill meant that Democratic leaders couldn’t rely on the other party to make up for significant defections among progressives. By contrast, 19 Republicans backed the measure in the Senate, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnell​​Democrats make voting rights push ahead of Senate consideration Hogan won't say if he will file to run for Senate by Feb. 22 deadline Voting rights, Trump's Big Lie, and Republicans' problem with minorities MORE (Ky.).

Heading into the day, Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiGOP senator knocks Biden for 'spreading things that are untrue' in voting rights speech Sen. Ron Johnson: Straight from the horse's mouth Clyburn says he's worried about losing House, 'losing this democracy' MORE (D-Calif.) and Democratic leaders had hoped to vote quickly not only on the infrastructure proposal, but also the Build Back Better Act. That plan hit a brick wall when a band of moderate Democrats raised concerns about deficit spending and balked at the idea of voting on the larger bill without a score from the CBO. 

A morning meeting between Pelosi, White House officials and the moderate holdouts yielded no breakthrough. The Speaker then tried a different tactic — devised by Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) and Black Caucus Chairwoman Joyce BeattyJoyce Birdson BeattyBlack Democrats hammer Manchin for backing filibuster on voting rights Harris aide to become Black Caucus executive director Congressional Black Caucus calls for Senate to reconvene, pass voting rights legislation MORE (D-Ohio) — calling a vote on the infrastructure bill and the rule for the social spending package, and daring liberals to tank the roads-and-bridges bill.

The detente came after Biden himself called into an hours-long meeting of House progressives, desperately seeking a way to break the ugly, intraparty stalemate and urging rank-and-file lawmakers to deliver a win on the infrastructure bill Friday night. 

Biden was put on speakerphone so the dozens of progressives in the room could hear, sources said. One of the ideas discussed during the 15-minute call with Biden was the moderates’ statement, one that would also have Biden’s full-throated support.  

ADVERTISEMENT

But the fate of the social spending package is still far from sealed. 

Numerous provisions currently in the House bill are likely to be stripped out or amended once it reaches the Senate. 

It’s not yet clear if provisions establishing temporary work permits and protection from deportation for certain immigrants will pass muster with the Senate parliamentarian, who determines whether the bill complies with arcane budget reconciliation rules that will enable Democrats to circumvent a GOP filibuster.

Before Friday’s fight over procedure and process, House Democratic leaders ironed out some final policy provisions late Thursday related to allowing Medicare to negotiate the price of certain prescription drugs and the state and local tax deduction. 

The House measure would raise the cap on the state and local tax deduction from $10,000 to $80,000, and to have that limit be in place at that level through 2030. But some senators have instead called for leaving the cap at $10,000 while exempting taxpayers with incomes under a level between $400,000 and $550,000.

Sen. Joe ManchinJoe Manchin​​Democrats make voting rights push ahead of Senate consideration Sunday shows - Voting rights legislation dominates Kaine says core of spending bill will pass but most of it is 'dead' MORE (D-W.Va.), a key centrist, has also expressed opposition to including paid family and medical leave in the social spending package.

ADVERTISEMENT

Friday’s votes marked the most significant progress House Democrats have made in almost two months on the two bills, which they’ve been trying to advance since late September. 

Democratic leaders have repeatedly pushed for votes on the two measures, only to be forced to delay again and again due to stubborn internal divisions.

But Democrats became desperate to make progress this week after election results in Virginia and New Jersey on Tuesday night delivered flashing red warning signs for prospects in next year’s midterm elections. 

Democrats lost the Virginia governor’s race for the first time since 2009, while New Jersey Gov. Phil MurphyPhil MurphyFire breaks out at NJ chemical plant: 'The worst that I've ever seen' Biden administration announces actions bolstering clean energy  The Hill's Morning Report - Biden champions filibuster reform, but doesn't have the votes MORE only narrowly won reelection — both in states that Biden easily won a year ago.

“At a certain point, we have to trust one another,” said Rep. Peter WelchPeter Francis WelchFormer US attorney considering Senate run in Vermont as Republican Members of Congress not running for reelection in 2022 Lowenthal becomes latest House Democrat to not seek reelection MORE (D-Vt.).

— Morgan Chalfant contributed

Updated: Nov. 6 at 1:15 p.m.