House Democrats, It's Time to Pass the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill
Progressives in the House of Representatives like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez don't want to approve the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill until they can force the Senate to pass the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill that contains other elements of President Joe Biden's "Build Back Better" initiative. They see it as leverage to obtain the support of centrists like Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema for the reconciliation legislation. At the moment, Machin and Sinema are holding out for a reduction in the price tag of that package and those negotiations are dragging on. There is little chance that the reconciliation bill will pass in its current form.
While the House progressives have a point, their strategy is exceedingly dangerous. The failure to pass the bipartisan bill would be catastrophic for Democrats. The narrative would be that they are too divided to effectively manage government and they would face a crushing defeat in the 2022 midterm elections. Democratic voters would simply stay home.
Moreover, the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill is an important piece of legislation that must be passed no matter what else happens in this Congress. Economics commentator, Noah Smith has a concise piece this morning on what the infrastructure bill would fund:
Noah Smith: The bipartisan infrastructure bill is progressive.
$110 billion for road and bridge repair
$66 billion for upgrading and maintaining passenger trains
$65 billion for making the power grid more robust and reliable
$39 billion for public transit
$25 billion for upgrades and expansions at airports
$17 billion for upgrades and expansions at ports
$65 billion for rural broadband
$55 billion for upgrading water infrastructure, including replacing all lead pipes (!!!)
$47 billion for cybersecurity and climate change mitigation
$21 billion for cleaning up toxic waste
$15 billion for electric vehicle charging stations and electric school buses
$11 billion for safety initiatives
$8 billion for Western water security
Much of this is stuff that’s crucial to any progressive agenda for the United States.
Smith is correct; progressives are undervaluing the provisions of the infrastructure bill. It's not perfect, of course, but it's widely popular and an excellent start on building a 21st century economy. Passage would also demonstrate that bipartisanship can still work in Congress and that Democrats are the "adults in the room," willing to compromise to make government work for the people.
More importantly, once infrastructure is passed, the other bills that progressives want will be easier, not harder, to pass. Politics in America rewards success. Voters like winners, doers, and right now America is losing patience with Democratic squabbling. The infighting is the storyline throughout the media. Change the narrative; take the win on infrastructure and then make the case for further legislation.
By: Don Lam & Curated Content