by Kody Bessent, Plains Cotton Growers
The House of Representatives, late Friday evening, adopted a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill (BIF), breaking a weeks-long deadlock between moderate and progressive Democratic lawmakers that threatened to derail the legislation. The vote was 228-206, with 13 Republican lawmakers voting in favor of the legislation, while the 6 most progressive and left-wing members of Congress known as “The Squad” remained opposed.
The BIF cleared the Senate in early August on a vote of 69-30 and will now advance to the President’s desk for final approval. The legislation includes $550 billion in new spending and is one of the largest infrastructure investments in history. In general, funding is dedicated for the replacement and repair of roads, bridges, transit, ports and waterways, airports and other projects including $65 billion for the expansion of broadband high-speed internet access across rural America.
Following passage of the BIF, a procedural vote was held on the $1.75 trillion social spending bill known as the Build Back Better Act (BBB), however, final passage is still on hold as a group of moderate Democrats continue to withhold their vote until they receive a fiscal score from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) laying out how much the legislation would add to the national debt.
While the Biden administration has stated the entirety of the BBB is paid for with revenue generated from a new corporate minimum tax, a tax on stock buybacks and an additional tax on top income earners, moderate Democrats in the House and Senate remain skeptical the proposed tax increases are sufficient to cover the cost of the legislation and have limited to no impact on the national debt.
In exchange for securing the necessary votes on the BIF, moderate Democrats issued a statement committing to support the BBB in its current form if the CBO completes its analysis by November 15 and “is consistent with toplines for revenues and investments in the White House Preliminary Budgetary Estimate of the Build Back Better Act.” Members of the Progressive Caucus followed suit lending their support to the BIF once an agreement had been reached on the BBB.
While preemptively it seems, a deal has been struck in the House for now to hold a vote on the BBB, final passage in the House is not definite and the legislation still has a long journey once it arrives in the Senate with Democrats having an even narrower vote margin to navigate and the legislation is all but certain to face controversy.