Several House Republicans who previously said they planned to support a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill shifted to more oppositional stances Friday after President Joe Biden linked the “core” infrastructure package with a larger social spending bill Democrats aim to pass without Republican support.
Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.), who said this week he planned to vote for the bill and criticized GOP leadership for opposing it, told Forbes in a Capitol Hill interview Friday night that he’s “going to back off this thing for a while” and “not commit to ‘yea’ or ‘nay.’”
Bacon said he talked to several of the House Republicans who were planning to vote for the bill and concluded “all bets are off,” telling Forbes some are now “absolute ‘no’” and others have to “rethink it,” predicting the bill won’t get more than a “couple” of GOP votes.
Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.), the chair of the moderate Republican Governance Group and an architect of the bill, called Biden’s comments “disgraceful” and said, “I’m going to do everything I can to get to ‘yes,’ but we’ll see.”
Katko said it would “certainly help if [Biden] was a lot more disciplined… in how he handles and conducts himself,” adding that Biden “clearly doesn’t understand the art of negotiation” and that his comments are “not going to help” the bill get GOP votes.
Other Republicans who have previously said they are undecided offered similarly scathing reviews: Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Mich.) said “I don’t know what he could do to spike this thing even more,” and Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-N.Y.) said she’s “certainly not going to vote for” the bipartisan bill if it’s linked with the social spending package.
Biden told House Democrats in a caucus meeting on Friday he sees the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill as tied together with the social spending bill, which he predicted will be in the range of $1.9 trillion to $2.2 trillion. Democrats are trying to pass the social spending bill through a process called budget reconciliation, which allows it to overcome the Senate’s 60-vote threshold, meaning it can pass with only Democratic votes. Biden’s remarks were cause for celebration among House progressives, dozens of whom have demanded passage of the social spending bill before they vote for the infrastructure bill.
“That’s what Republicans were saying all along,” Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), the chair of the conservative Republican Study Committee and a leading critic of the infrastructure bill, said of Biden’s comments linking the two packages. “Democrats failed to do this week what they said they were going to do, and that’s a good thing for the American people,” he added.
Bacon said he “feels bad” for moderate Democrats after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi repeatedly delayed a vote on the infrastructure package after striking an agreement with moderates in August to hold it on September 27, adding that he heard from one moderate Democrat on Friday who called Pelosi a “liar.” Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.) said in a statement Friday she was “profoundly disappointed and disillusioned” by Pelosi’s decision.
What To Watch For
Whether the infrastructure bill gets GOP support in the House – even after 19 Republicans voted for it in the Senate – may be a moot point. If the White House brokers an agreement with moderate Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) on the social spending package, both bills will likely pass with progressive support.