WASHINGTON — Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday muscled through a $3.5 trillion budget framework, overcoming a standoff with a handful of centrists who had demanded the House first approve the bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill passed by the Senate.
That position by 10 House Democrats — including Reps. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, Carolyn Bourdeaux of Georgia, Jared Golden of Maine, and Stephanie Murphy of Florida — prompted a late-night negotiating session Monday between the centrists and top House Democrats.
The move risked upending the president’s domestic policy agenda, due to the razor-thin majority that Democrats have in the chamber.
Ultimately, all 10 voted to approve the budget framework in Tuesday’s party-line 220-212 vote, in which every House Republican voted in opposition.
The procedural vote included a commitment that the House will vote on the Senate-approved infrastructure bill by Sept. 27 — just days ahead of the Oct. 1 deadline that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., had set for approving both the infrastructure bill and the budget package.
Pelosi said during her floor remarks Tuesday that she “salutes” the bipartisan nature of the infrastructure deal, but said that measure alone is “not inclusive of all of the values we need to build back at a time when we have a climate crisis.”
“Not only are we building the physical infrastructure of America, we are building the human infrastructure of America to enable many more people to participate in the success of our economy and the growth of our society,” Pelosi said.
Tuesday’s budget vote kicks off a fast-paced process that must be completed by Sept. 15 to draft the budget measure, which is expected to create and expand a broad range of domestic policy programs on child care, climate change, community college, immigration and health care.
Colorado Rep. Joe Neguse, who led the floor debate for Democrats, said domestic policy proposals that will be drafted in the budget reconciliation process would be “transformational” through a series of critical policy investments.
“This plan will create good paying jobs, put money in the pockets of American families, lower health care and childcare costs, and invest in our nation’s infrastructure, paid for by ensuring that the wealthiest Americans are paying their fair share in taxes,” Neguse said.
Taking to Twitter, U.S. Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, D-5th District, said the bill will “deliver transformative, life-changing benefits for working families.”
Democrats' #BuildBackBetter Act will deliver transformative, life-changing benefits for working families.
This is about creating jobs, cutting taxes, and lowering costs for average Americans. pic.twitter.com/JgiZrfyU3F
— Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon (@RepMGS) August 24, 2021
In a statement, U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-8th District, said that “the bipartisan infrastructure deal and the Build Back Better plan together will create more American jobs, cut taxes for working families and lower costs. Major investments in all the infrastructure that makes our country run will drive good-paying job growth and make us more competitive with every other country in the world. This includes important funding for new Amtrak routes that can help bring passenger rail connections back to Northeastern Pennsylvania.”
Republicans vehemently opposed the budget resolution, blasting it as recklessly increasing government spending at a time when inflation is increasing costs for American families. Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., quipped that the bill should be dubbed the “Mountains of Debt for Our Children Act.”
“Democrats know their proposals are unpopular. They can’t even get their own conference to agree,” said Rep. Michelle Fischbach, R-Minn., referring to the objections from the handful of centrist Democrats.
In a statement, U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, R-16th District, also criticized the bill, asking, “What are doing? Funded and unfunded debt right now exceeds $130 trillion. We have become so out of touch with the people that supply every penny and cosign every debt that we do. My question is when do we in Washington start to surely represent the people who had faith and trust and sent us here.