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Democratic lawmakers blame infrastructure bill delay for loss in Virginia governor's race

"I think congressional Democrats blew the timing," said Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va.

WASHINGTON — Some Democrats are not ready to let the results of Virginia's high-profile governor's race go, arguing Sunday that the loss might have been avoided had Congress passed President Joe Biden's infrastructure plan ahead of the election.

The House passed a $555 billion infrastructure bill after months of negotiations Friday, just days after Republican Glenn Youngkin defeated Democrat Terry McAuliffe for governor in Virginia, flipping control of a state that Biden won handily a year ago.

Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., said that if the bill had been passed weeks before the election, he would have had time to go out and promote it to Virginia voters.

"I think if we could have been talking about that win and showing the kind of job creation that actually has been taking place, things might have been different," Warner said on CNN's "State of the Union."

Asked directly whether McAuliffe could have won, Warner said, "Absolutely."

Shortly after the House passed the infrastructure bill, it cleared a procedural hurdle for Biden's $1.75 trillion safety net package.

The vote came after weeks of missed deadlines and then hours of wrangling among Democrats ended in a pact between progressives and centrists. Progressives agreed to pass the bipartisan physical infrastructure bill, and centrists promised to vote for the Build Back Better bill after an estimate about its price is completed.

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., said on CBS' "Face the Nation": "I think congressional Democrats blew the timing. We should've passed these bills in early October. If we had, it would've helped Terry McAuliffe probably win the governor's race."

Virginia, which elects a new governor one year after presidential races, has long been viewed as a political bellwether. Both parties were anxiously watching as results poured in from across the commonwealth, eager for clues about the political landscape that will inform their coming campaigns.

"I do think the voters sent a message on Tuesday. They wanted to see more action in Washington. They wanted to see things move more quickly," White House chief of staff Ron Klain said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "And three days later, Congress responded, passing the president's infrastructure bill."

For months, Democrats have encountered obstacles negotiating the bills because of the intraparty divisions between moderates and progressives.

Leaders postponed votes on the infrastructure package several times because of progressives' insistence that they would vote on it only in tandem with the social safety net bill.

A date for a vote on the social safety net bill has not been set yet. Biden has said he is confident it will happen over the next two weeks.