Most of those Republicans withheld their votes until Democrats could deliver the vast majority of votes on their own. The energy on the House floor was ecstatic as Democrats realized they would have enough votes to pass the bill. Even as the clock approached midnight, lawmakers gathered on the floor cheering, high-fiving and backslapping as they sent the bill to Biden’s desk.
Pelosi initially brought up the infrastructure legislation Friday alongside a vote on the separate bill, seeking to make good on a promise to her caucus that the two would pass the chamber simultaneously.
But Pelosi ultimately was forced to postpone a vote on the climate and social safety net bill, teeing up approval of a rule to debate that bill as soon as the week of Nov. 15. She did so after rebellion from a handful of centrists who insisted on waiting for an independent cost estimate before taking up the far bigger bill, which includes health care and child care investments.
Attempts to pass the infrastructure legislation in September and October fizzled out after liberals threatened to tank the infrastructure bill if the social spending package did not come up for a vote, too. That so-called “two-track strategy” infuriated House moderates, who wanted the infrastructure package to pass earlier and opposed the linkage of the bills.
The infrastructure bill won 19 GOP votes in the Senate, including that of Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. However, its numbers fell in the House, where some Republicans said they had decided to oppose it after Democrats publicly linked it to the social spending bill.
Looming over Democrats’ intra-caucus haggling is next year’s midterm elections. Still smarting from Tuesday’s election losses, they’re hopeful the passage of the infrastructure bill will give them momentum.
“Being able to say that we delivered on our promises is critical,” said Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.), who represents a purple district. “And being able to show that Democrats are capable of governing even as Republicans are hostile to government. That allows us to go into next year with a clear message.”
Olivia Beavers and Sarah Ferris contributed reporting.