The House passed a $555 billion infrastructure bill on Friday night, sending the legislation to President Joe Biden who is expected to quickly sign the measure into law.
The funding package, which passed 228 to 206 and relied on Republican votes to get across the finish line, will ramp up government spending on roads, bridges and airports, as well as funding for public transit, water and broadband.
Six Democrats voted against the measure and 13 Republicans voted in favor. The Democratic opposition was progressive members who were unhappy that the bill was being voted on before passage of a $1.75 trillion social safety net spending bill.
The vote hands Biden a victory on a major bipartisan bill, but one that took months to get through Congress and revealed deep divisions in the Democratic Party. The Senate approved the bill in August before it stalled for months as House progressives clashed with Democratic centrists.
In a statement, Biden praised Friday's House vote as "a monumental step forward," saying the bill will tackle the climate crisis, create jobs and "ease inflation pressures and lower costs for working families."
On Friday, Biden put new pressure on House Democrats to pass both the infrastructure package and the social policy measure, also known as the Build Back Better bill.
“I'm asking every member of the House of Representatives to vote yes on both these bills right now,” Biden said during remarks from the White House. “Send the infrastructure bill to my desk, send the Build Back Better bill to the Senate. Let's build on incredible economic progress, build on what we've already done because this will be such a boost when it occurs.”
House leadership later decided to push back the vote on the safety net bill due to several moderates insisting on first seeing a Congressional Budget Office cost estimate of the legislation to ensure the bill is fully paid for. Democrats cannot afford to lose more than a handful defections given their narrow majority in the House.
Progressives, however, wanted the infrastructure package to be linked to the social spending plan out of concern that passing infrastructure first would weaken their leverage in shaping and advancing the Build Back Better bill.
Democrats are now aiming to vote on the safety net bill before Thanksgiving. House passage would send the legislation to the Senate, where it will need the support of all 50 Democrats to find its way to Biden's desk.
On the House floor, shortly before the vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called both bills “historic,” saying they will create millions of jobs and help working families.
In August, the Senate voted 69 to 30 to pass the infrastructure bill, with 19 Republicans joining all Democrats.
The spending package would provide new federal spending on bridges and roads, as well as energy systems and transit programs. It would create a program aimed at building and repairing bridges in rural communities, and one to expand internet connectivity in Tribal and rural communities. The bill would further provide funding to protect water systems, particularly in low-income communities.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates the legislation would add $256 billion to the federal deficit over a 10-year span.