A major coalition of moderate House lawmakers is endorsing the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure deal in the Senate, it announced Tuesday, marking a huge step forward as lawmakers wrestle with how to push the legislation through the lower chamber.
In a statement, the Problem Solvers Caucus — a bipartisan group of 29 Democrats and 29 Republicans in the lower chamber of Congress — said they supported the compromise agreement, adding it closely aligns with their proposal.
“The bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus strongly supports the Senate infrastructure framework, which is closely aligned with our own ‘Building Bridges’ proposal released last month,” the group said, noting their own $1.25 trillion compromise package.
The vote on endorsing the Senate’s measure passed by 75 percent, with each party surpassing 50 percent in support, Fox News reported.
Their endorsement made no reference to House Democrats’ partisan infrastructure bill, which would need to be passed by budget reconciliation.
Budget reconciliation allows the majority party to bypass the legislative filibuster, the Senate rule requiring 60 members to end debate on most topics and move forward to a vote.
The Senate is split 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats, though Vice President Kamala Harris, as Senate president, has a tie-breaking vote. Still, 51 votes are not enough under current rules to break through the filibuster.
Reconciliation would allow Democrats to pass spending for critical projects, but the process cannot be used to change or create laws.
President Biden split the package, a centerpiece of his post-COVID agenda, into two packages for Congress to pass.
The first, the “American Jobs Plan,” focused on infrastructure, while the second, the “American Families Plan,” is aimed at funding Democrats’ domestic policy platform.
Republicans took issue with the second package, which they argued stretched the definition of infrastructure.
Biden announced a deal last Thursday on hard infrastructure spending, made with a bipartisan group led by Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.).
The agreement would spend $1.2 trillion over eight years, a little more than half of the Democrats’ $2.3 trillion proposal.
That agreement, which is still up in the air as it has not yet been written or signed, could still fall through, leaving Democrats almost certain to return to the $2.3 trillion partisan reconciliation bill or something like it.
House Democrats have continued the process of writing the partisan legislation in the event that the Senate deal falls through.
For her part, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has thrown cold water on the idea of the House passing the compromise package if the Senate did not take up the “Families Plan” legislation, which would only pass through reconciliation.
While in the majority, Democrats’ margin against Republicans in the House is extremely tight. She cannot afford to have the Democratic caucus be fractured on infrastructure because she does not have the wiggle room to be able to lose more than a few members.
If more moderate Democrats begin backing the Problem Solvers Caucus-endorsed compromise over the partisan deal, it will make the House-backed packages that much harder to push through.
“With this new endorsement, there’s an even greater chance that we can get a standalone, bipartisan infrastructure package across the finish line,” Problem Solvers Caucus co-chair Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) said in a statement on the endorsement.
Sinema, meanwhile, cheered the seal of approval from the caucus, of which she used to be a member when she served in the House.
“I’m thrilled to have the Caucus’s support for our bipartisan agreement to make historic investments in upgrading America’s critical infrastructure, creating jobs and expanding economic opportunities across the country without raising taxes.”