Congress passed a stop-gap measure to reauthorize transportation funding on Thursday evening after Democratic leadership opted to punt a vote on a bipratisan, Senate-passed $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill.
The measure was put off for a third time in the House of Represenatives after progressive Democrats threatened to tank the legislation without movement in the Senate on President Biden’s $1.75 trillion social spending bill.
The short-term highway funding bill passed in a 358-59 and was deemed passed by the upper chamber shortly after. The infrastructure bill will not be taken up now until at least next week.
The decision to extend highway funding comes in the wake of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) calling on members of her caucus to support the Senate-passed bipartisan measure, a meeting in which President Biden attempted to rally support around the measures.
“Let’s not just keep having postponements and leaving any doubt as to when this will happen,” Pelosi told reporters on Thursday afternoon.
But despite her pleas for members of her party not to “embarrass” the president ahead of his trip overseas by voting down the infrastructure bill during the caucus meeting, progressives asserted that the framework was not enough to win their support on the “hard infrastructure” bill, with some voicing they would lose leverage as the party looks to move forward with the reconciliation bill.
The far-left flank of the party has asserted that they believe both the hard infrastructure bill and the massive social spending bill should be passed in conjunction with one another
While proponents of acting on the bipartisan bill as a standalone argue that the failure to pass the measure dealt a blow to the president, who has faced dwindling numbers in the polls, liberal lawmakers argued that they could have a deal as soon as next week, with talks expected to continue over the weekend.
Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) added that her caucus endorsed the framework, asserting she does not believe the lack of passage makes the president look weak.
“We sent him off with a ringing endorsement of the framework that he presented to the caucus today. I told anybody that would listen, that we did not have the votes for the BIF vote tonight,” she told reporters.
“The president did not ask for this vote today, I just want to be very clear about that. The Speaker did, but the president did not, the president said he wants us to pass both bills and that this coming week was going to be critical for them. We will deliver both these bills to him from the House.”
The stop-gap transportation bill is slated to keep the Highway Trust Fund funded through Dec. 3. Congress passed a similar measure earlier this month after the House scrapped delayed plans to vote on the bipartisan bill.
The timing on when either piece of legislation remains unclear, but is not expected to come to the floor until at least next week.