The fate of the bipartisan infrastructure bill is still unknown. What we do know is that a complete and total failure of leadership from President Biden and Speaker Pelosi, and transparently political sabotage from Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and former President Trump, are responsible if it does not pass today.
No Labels’ allies in both the House and Senate — including the nine House Democrats who stood up to Pelosi this summer and the Republicans in the Senate who worked to find a compromise despite threats from Trump — have shown real moxie, with huge portions of the Democratic and Republican establishments and bases allied against them. They prove the case there are still courageous leaders with the ability to shape and move big bipartisan legislation from the center out.
But Biden never reached out to the House Problem Solvers Caucus, and he has ignored repeated outreach from Republican Caucus members. Pelosi plowed ahead with a budget resolution enabling a reconciliation bill spending as much as $3.5 trillion, which was a dealbreaker for many House Republicans. Trump — who repeatedly promised to fix the nation’s infrastructure during his presidency — is actively campaigning against the bill, with McCarthy whipping against it.
While some are already pointing fingers at Republican Problem Solvers who may vote against the bill, the fault is with leaders of both parties — particularly those who say they believe in the importance of bipartisanship but whose actions have not matched their words.
While we don’t know yet how the vote will go, it’s important to remember that without the work of No Labels and its allies on Capitol Hill, there might not be a bill at all.
In the spring of 2019, the Problem Solvers came together to lay out a detailed bipartisan infrastructure proposal. And in April of this year, No Labels National Co-Chair Gov. Larry Hogan (R-MD) hosted Problem Solvers, No Labels Senate allies, and three other governors at the Governor’s Mansion in Annapolis for a bipartisan infrastructure summit.
In early June, talks between the White House and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) on an infrastructure plan broke down. But the very next day, a group of senators led by Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) came forward with a new plan based on the framework developed in Annapolis. By the end of June, Biden and a group of 23 senators had reached a deal. Biden called it “a true bipartisan effort.”
On August 10, a bipartisan infrastructure plan that started with No Labels’ allies in Annapolis and that appeared dead just two months earlier, passed the Senate on a solid 69-30 two-party vote — with both Majority Leader Schumer and Minority Leader McConnell in favor.
Getting this far has been a monumental achievement, and a sign that bipartisanship can work, despite the best efforts of the extremes of both parties to stop it. The House now has the chance to finish the job.