As the nation grapples with the COVID epidemic, and many lawmakers are focused on passing a second relief package, the House Democrats passed a $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill. The Moving Forward Act is headed to the Senate chamber, after a 233-188 vote. While the bill includes transportation to fund schools, health care facilities, public utilities and affordable housing, there is a heavy focus on climate change and cities. Transportation Committee Chairman Rep. Peter DeFazio championed the bill, and proudly said it is “a transformational investment in American infrastructure that will create millions of jobs.” Only three house Republicans voted for the bill, while two Democrats voted against it.
The partisan bill is facing fierce criticism from Republican lawmakers. Rep. Graves called the bill a “partisan wish list” and “Green New Deal in disguise,” and Mitch McConnell told Politico the bill was “pure fantasy.” The White House has already made their stance clear on the bill, highlighting how it focuses on urban areas, and said the president would veto the bill in its current form.
Why this matters: Since winning the House majority, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been strategic with each bill she passes, and how that affects the party as a whole. One of her main concerns as a party leader is to help her members get re-elected, and she is cognizant that each bill passed will help campaigns to their respective constituents. Passing a highly partisan bill, with various issues packed into it, will serve as a central point for when lawmakers need to prove they took action in DC. With a complete understanding the Republicans in the Senate would never pass the bill, nor the White House, it serves as a point of conflict for the party that will help form their narrative. Bills like this are purely for political optics, and the leaders who move it to the House floor understand this completely. For example, a smaller infrastructure bill was approved by Senate committee in 2019, but has stalled since.