Politics

Costa, moderate Dems strike deal to expedite vote on infrastructure bill

A group of 10 moderate members of the House Democratic Caucus secured a deal with Speaker Nancy Pelosi to expedite consideration of the so-called “bipartisan infrastructure bill” by the end of September.

The bloc, led by Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D–N.J.) and includes the Valley’s Rep. Jim Costa (D–Fresno), was seen as unlikely to secure any form of deal from Pelosi.

During August recess, they threatened to torpedo another key initiative of House Democrats, a broader, $3.5 trillion spending proposal led by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.), if the chamber didn’t commit to approving the Biden administration’s infrastructure plan first.

At the outset, Pelosi referred to the effort as being “amateur hour.”

The prevailing view was that both the bipartisan infrastructure and broader, $3.5 trillion social spending bill required cooperation from House moderates and progressives to survive floor votes in the chamber.

To the dismay of Democratic leaders, the position created a form of mutually-assured destruction over Democrats’ top priorities nearly a year away from the 2022 midterm elections.

Beltway insiders similarly viewed the moderate push as unlikely to go far, with Democratic leaders able to leverage redistricting and other political benefits to pick off members of Gottheimer’s group.

After advancing a procedural vote that opens the door for a $3.5 trillion reconciliation package, the moderate group of 10 announced an agreement with Pelosi on Tuesday night to bring the bipartisan infrastructure bill to the floor for a standalone vote on Sept. 27.

As part of the deal, a sweeping spending package via reconciliation can only be brought to the floor if backed by 51 votes in the Senate and does not violate the “Byrd Rule,” barring extraneous provisions.

“I’m proud that Democrats have come together to advance President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda by committing to a stand-alone vote on the bipartisan infrastructure framework and delivering a budget that helps working people across this country,” Costa said in a statement Tuesday night.

Les Hubbard is a contributing reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun.