Moderates Reinforce Push for Immediate Infrastructure Vote

August 20, 2021 by Dan McCue
Rep. Ed Case, D-Hawaii, Co-Chair for Policy and Legislative Strategy for the Blue Dog Coalition of House Democrats.

WASHINGTON — Nine moderate House Democrats on Friday reinforced their call for an immediate vote on the Senate-passed Bipartisan Infrastructure bill, putting them on a collision course with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as the chamber prepares to return to Capitol Hill next week.

Last week, the nine democrats delivered a letter to Pelosi, saying they will not vote for a budget resolution intended to advance a sweeping, $3.5 trillion climate and social policy package this year unless a separate infrastructure bill is approved first.

The letter was an open break with Pelosi, who insists the House will not vote on the $1 trillion package of road, rail, water and other infrastructure projects until the Senate sends the House the companion $3.5 trillion bill.

It said, in part, that the moderates would not even consider voting for the budget resolution “until the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passes the House and is signed into law.” 

“With the livelihoods of hardworking American families at stake, we simply can’t afford months of unnecessary delays and risk squandering this one-in-a-century, bipartisan infrastructure package,” the letter continued. “It’s time to get shovels in the ground and people to work.”

The signers included Reps. Josh Gottheimer, of New Jersey, Carolyn Bourdeaux, of Georgia, Filemon Vela, of Texas, Jared Golden, of Maine, Henry Cuellar, of Texas, Vicente Gonzalez, of Texas, Ed Case, of Hawaii, Jim Costa, of California, and Kurt Schrader, of Oregon.

On Friday they issued a release in which each of the nine reiterated their position.

“New Jersey has the third worst roads in the nation, a third of our bridges need repairs, and our critical train tunnel to New York is 113-years-old and literally crumbling,” Gottheimer said. “Like the rest of America, we have waited far too long for legislation that will actually fix our nation’s infrastructure. 

“That’s why the House can’t afford to wait months, or do anything to risk passing the historic infrastructure package that the Senate voted on earlier this month, with overwhelming Democratic and Republican support,” he said. 

Gottheimer noted the bipartisan legislation is expected to create two million jobs a year over the next decade, and that it has the support from the AFL-CIO and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. 

In addition, the New Jersey Democrat said, the House has the votes to pass the legislation “right now.” 

This, he said, is why he believes “we should first vote immediately on the bipartisan infrastructure package, send it to the president’s desk, and then quickly consider the budget resolution.” 

Cuellar agreed, saying, “It is only rational that we move this bill forward now. Americans are ready to get back to work and we must seize this historic opportunity to pass a once in a generation infrastructure legislation—a rare example of broad-based bipartisan, bicameral support.”

While most of the nine explicitly say they plan to support the budget reconciliation bill once the bipartisan infrastructure deal is voted on, at least one, Schrader expressed concern that one could be undone by the other.

“The ambiguity of the reconciliation process would leave the bipartisan infrastructure package in limbo and lead to possible failure,” he said. “Families in Oregon and throughout the country simply cannot afford to miss out on the largest effort in a century to rebuild our crumbling transportation and water systems and make transformative investments, like ensuring universal access to affordable high-speed broadband and strengthening energy resiliency.

“The House must pass the bipartisan infrastructure package without delay. Waiting any longer risks losing the creation of good-paying union jobs, growing and supporting businesses and keeping our country competitive in the world market,” Schrader said.

Case, who is also the House Blue Dog Coalition’s co-chair for Policy and Legislative Strategy, said the calculus is easy to understand: “Our country desperately needs this direct reinvestment in our crumbling infrastructure. We also desperately need to prove our dysfunctional government can actually work,” he said. 

“That’s why this measure is so widely supported nationwide, and we cannot risk any failure to deliver. In a deeply divided Congress, it is virtually impossible to pass such major initiatives, and any changes or delays will likely cause this one to fail,” he said.

In a separate, lengthier statement issued through the Blue Dogs, Case said “The Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will deliver the largest long-term investment in our nation’s infrastructure in nearly a century—making historic investments that will create family-sustaining jobs, help combat the climate crisis, and connect communities, small businesses, and families nationwide with high-speed internet. 

“Additionally, it will fix our nation’s crumbling roads and bridges, make the largest investment in clean drinking water and wastewater infrastructure in American history, and ensure our nation can remain dominant in the global economy. The Senate passed this bill with the support of 69 Senators, Democrats and Republicans, and the sooner we pass this historic legislation in the House, the sooner we can send it to the president’s desk and ultimately begin delivering on our promises to the American people. The co-chairs of the Blue Dog Coalition oppose efforts to delay consideration of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act—a pillar of President Biden’s American Jobs Plan Proposal—in the House. 

“As the House begins developing legislation to address other key elements of the American Jobs and Families Plan proposals, the House must not delay progress for our constituents, who stand to gain so much once this bill is signed into law,” Case added.

“I want to make it clear: I intend to vote on the president’s infrastructure bill and the reconciliation budget package, but not with conditions that are presently before us,” Costa said. “The Bipartisan infrastructure package should be voted on first and put on the president’s desk. That would mark a great victory for the American people. If that were to happen, I would immediately vote for budget reconciliation to get that process going. 

“Despite our differences as Democrats, we all have the same goals to advance the president’s agenda and Build Back Better for every American. I’m confident that by working together we can pass both parts of this important plan,” Costa said.

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