Infrastructure at the Finish Line

Punchbowl sums it up: “This is the biggest day so far of Joe Biden’s presidency,” with House votes scheduled on both the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the Democratic-only social spending and climate bill. “But it’s only the end of the opening act…in a multi-act drama to pass Biden’s legislative agenda.”

The House went into session at 8:00 this morning, and will first vote on a “rule” designed to bring the Build Back Better bill — the one-party spending package — to the floor. While this is procedurally required, it is also a test vote to see if the measure has enough support to pass. If it does, the House will debate that bill for an hour, and vote on it.

After that, the infrastructure bill will be brought to a vote. Since it has already passed the Senate, it will immediately go to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law. (Punchbowl again: “Kind of amazing that the largest infrastructure deal ever will pass as almost a side note.”)

This is not the House endgame that problem-solvers sought, nor is it what Speaker Pelosi promised. Pelosi agreed to bring infrastructure to a vote first — a vote that was meant to have happened more than a month ago.

But if infrastructure passes today, it will become law. The one-party spending bill will face negotiations and votes in the Senate, then a return to the House, and completion is weeks away. Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has expressed skepticism about the version the House is taking up today, so the fate of that bill is far from assured.

On infrastructure, victory — a messy, long-delayed victory, but victory nonetheless — could be imminent.

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