Lawmakers interrupted their August recess to return to Capitol Hill as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tied the $3.5 trillion budget spending plan and a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill together. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo
Aug. 24 (UPI) -- House Democrats on Tuesday approved a $3.5 trillion budget blueprint, advancing two key pieces of President Joe Biden's agenda.
The House voted 220-212 to instruct committees to write the bill following a disagreement between a small group of moderate Democrats and progressives in the House that lasted into the early morning hours on Tuesday.
Lawmakers interrupted their August recess to return to Capitol Hill as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tied the $3.5 trillion budget spending plan and a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill together while committing to take up a vote on the infrastructure bill by Sept. 27.
The rule was passed along party lines with all Democrats voting in favor and all Republicans voting against it.
"Never bet against Nancy Pelosi," Rep. John Larson, D-Conn., said after the vote. "Knowing the enormous amount of work that goes into something like this, and in the very narrow margins that we have, it makes her job even more extraordinary. And she also takes all the heat for being the leader."
Biden praised House Democrats for their work passing the bill, calling Pelosi "masterful" in her leadership.
"We are a step closer to truly investing in the American people, positioning our economy for long-term growth and building an America that outcompetes the world," he said.
He also thanked lawmakers for settling their disputes and coming to an agreement.
"There were differences, strong points of view. They're always welcome. What is important is that we came together to advance our agenda," Biden said.
Pelosi and most other Democrats want the spending bill passed first, as they fear the moderates will begin stripping down funding in the bill once they have the infrastructure package in hand.
Democrats gathered Monday night to make key procedural votes to advance the bills, plus a third piece of legislation on protecting voting rights. The disagreement postponed further voting until Tuesday.
The group of centrist Democrats led by Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., argued that the infrastructure bill is the most important and must be passed as soon as possible. They had threatened to vote against the spending resolution if it's not.
Pelosi and Gottheimer were moving toward a deal late Monday to commit to passing the infrastructure bill by Oct. 1, but that wasn't good enough for some moderates.
Democrats in the House could afford just three defections on the spending resolution, which was not expected to attract any Republican support, with such a narrow advantage in the chamber. Nearly two dozen Republicans in the Senate voted for the infrastructure deal, which aims to rebuild and repair roads, bridges and transit systems nationwide.
The spending resolution includes money for a variety of Democratic priorities, including healthcare, climate change and social initiatives.
The impasse delayed a vote on a procedural rule for debate parameters for the budget resolution, infrastructure bill and voting rights legislation named for the late Rep. John Lewis of Georgia.
The infighting has led some lawmakers to express frustration with the ordeal.
"I'm bewildered by my party's misguided strategy to make passage of the popular, already-written, bipartisan infrastructure bill contingent upon passage of the contentious, yet-to-be-written, partisan reconciliation bill," wrote Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., in an op-ed in the Orlando Sentinel Monday. "It's bad policy and, yes, bad politics."
Pelosi called the stalemate "unfortunate" and said the moderates want a "discussion about the process when we want to have a discussion of policy."
"Right now we have an opportunity to pass something so substantial for our country, so transformative we haven't seen anything like it," Pelosi said, according to The Hill.
"We cannot squander this majority and this Democratic White House by not passing what we need to do."