The House of Representatives was due to vote on the bipartisan bill on Thursday, but the vote was postponed after late-night negotiations among the Democrats and divisions between progressives and moderates in the party.
The $1.2 trillion bill passed the Senate in August with bipartisan support, but progressive Democrats had said they would not vote for it unless the $3.5 trillion package advanced alongside it.
Progressives could claim victory on Thursday after Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi delayed the vote on the bipartisan package.
While the smaller bill covers traditional infrastructure, the $3.5 trillion package also provides funding for so-called “human infrastructure,” including childcare and measures to tackle climate change.
Members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus have welcomed Pelosi’s decision.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington’s 7th district, who is chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, tweeted: “By allowing one bill to advance without the Build Back Better Act alongside it, we leave behind childcare, paid leave, health care, climate action, education, and a roadmap to citizenship.
“We’re not going to leave working people, families, and our communities behind.”
Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota’s 5th district also welcomed the decision, saying: “Especially proud to lead the whip team of @USProgressives tonight alongside fearless leaders like @PramilaJayapal and @katieporteroc. Together we can deliver President Biden’s agenda and for the people.”
Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández of New Mexico’s 3rd district tweeted: “We are going to pass the infrastructure bill, but we’re going to do this right. We promised our communities the Build Back Better Plan with the infrastructure bill together – they deserve nothing less. I’ll continue to #HoldTheLine until we keep our promise.”
We are going to pass the infrastructure bill, but we’re going to do this right. We promised our communities the Build Back Better Plan with the infrastructure bill together – they deserve nothing less.
I’ll continue to #HoldTheLine until we keep our promise. https://t.co/TS4lHdL3Pm— Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández (@RepTeresaLF) October 1, 2021
Pelosi’s last-minute decision appeared to have come as a surprise to some in the moderate wing of the party, who were still saying on Thursday that the vote would take place as scheduled.
Other progressive lawmakers said they would continue to “hold the line” on the $3.5 trillion bill.
“We are #holdingtheline for our children, for the future, for the planet. Our work continues tomorrow!” wrote Rep. Melanie Stansbury of New Mexico’s 1st district.
Rep. Chuy García of Illinois’ 4th district tweeted: “I won’t bargain with our children’s future. We need to #BuildBackBetternow, not later. @USProgressives will #HoldTheLine. I’m a NO on infrastructure from the House, unless the Senate passes reconciliation.”
Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee’s 9th district wrote: “We need to deliver the entirety of the President’s agenda by passing both the infrastructure bill and Build Back Better Act. If we don’t show results for the American people, we could see the return of Trumpism and a vengeance tour that tests the very foundation of our democracy.”