Economy

U.S. Democrats pass $1 trln infrastructure bill, ending daylong standoff

After a daylong standoff, Democrats set aside divisions between progressives and centrists to pass a $1 trillion package of highway, broadband and other infrastructure improvement, sending it on to President Joe Biden to sign into law.

The 228-to-206 vote late on Friday is a substantial triumph for Biden’s Democrats, who have bickered for months over the ambitious spending bills that make up the bulk of his domestic agenda.

Biden’s administration will now oversee the biggest upgrade of America’s roads, railways and other transportation infrastructure in a generation, which he has promised will create jobs and boost U.S. competitiveness.

Democrats still have much work to do on the second pillar of Biden’s domestic program: a sweeping expansion of the social safety net and programs to fight climate change. At a price tag of $1.75 trillion, that package would be the biggest expansion of the U.S. safety net since the 1960s, but the party has struggled to unite behind it.

Democratic leaders had hoped to pass both bills out of the House on Friday, but postponed action after centrists demanded a nonpartisan accounting of its costs – a process that could take weeks.

After hours of closed-door meetings, a group of centrists promised to vote for the bill by Nov. 20 – as long as the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found that its costs lined up with White House estimates.

“Welcome to my world. This is the Democratic Party,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters earlier in the day. “We are not a lockstep party.”

The $1.75 trillion bill cleared a procedural hurdle by a vote of 221 to 213 early on Saturday, which will enable Democratic leaders to quickly schedule a final vote when the time comes.

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