In the wee hours of the Washington morning, the House passed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework, or BIF. This was the Sinema/Manchin bill that got 19 Republican votes in the Senate. The vote tonight was 228-206, with 13 Republicans voting aye. As I’m sure you know, this is a big piece of the President’s agenda. It’s got a lot of good stuff in it–more on that in a second.
This vote followed a busy day of negotiations between the moderate and progressive wings of the House caucus. In the end, they arrived at a sort of pinkie-swear: the moderates agreed to pass the Build Back Better reconciliation bill mostly in its present form, with some caveats about cost scoring that will likely provide a fig leaf for their eventual yes vote as well as letting them chip away at various components of the bill.
So what is in the BIF? Is it, as some leftier-than-thou types on Twitter allege, just a normal highway bill? Of course not. Yes, its base was the highway bill, but it’s got an additional $550 billion of investments which, if it had passed in 2009, would have had us leaping for joy.
- $110 billion for road and bridge repair
- $66 billion for upgrading and maintaining passenger trains
- $65 billion for making the power grid more robust and reliable
- $39 billion for public transit
- $25 billion for upgrades and expansions at airports
- $17 billion for upgrades and expansions at ports
- $65 billion for rural broadband
- $55 billion for upgrading water infrastructure, including replacing all lead pipes (!!!)
- $47 billion for cybersecurity and climate change mitigation
- $21 billion for cleaning up toxic waste
- $15 billion for electric vehicle charging stations and electric school buses
- $11 billion for safety initiatives
- $8 billion for Western water security
I’m so old I remember when we thought that lead in drinking water was a big deal.
Where does this leave the BBB bill? That is up to the senate, as always. Is this a capitulation on Pelosi or the Progressive Caucus’s part? Is it just supposed to look that way? Who knows how these things work. We will see.