Moderates negotiate compromise as US House advances Biden's $3.5 trillion domestic agenda

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrives for a House Democratic caucus meeting amidst ongoing negotiations over budget and infrastructure legislation at the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday.

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrives for a House Democratic caucus meeting amidst ongoing negotiations over budget and infrastructure legislation at the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday. (Jonathan Ernst, Reuters)



WASHINGTON — The Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives voted on Tuesday to advance key parts of President Joe Biden's agenda, after moderates and progressives reached a compromise allowing them to move forward on the multitrillion-dollar plans.

In a party-line 220-212 vote, it approved a $3.5 trillion budget framework to advance progressives' ambitious plans to expand child care and other social programs, and agreed to vote by Sept. 27 on a $1 trillion Senate-passed infrastructure bill that is a top priority for moderate Democrats.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also said her chamber would work with the Senate to nail down the details of the larger $3.5 trillion budget.

Biden's fellow Democrats have little room for error as they try to approve the two massive spending initiatives in the House and Senate, where the party holds razor-thin majorities.

"Passing an infrastructure bill is always exciting for what it means in terms of jobs and commerce in our country," Pelosi said. "Now more than ever, it also has to be a part of protecting our environment."

Pelosi had hoped to quickly approve the $3.5 trillion budget outline, which would enable lawmakers to begin filling in the details on the sweeping package that would boost spending on child care, education and other social programs and raise taxes on the wealthy and corporations.

But centrist Democrats, led by Representative Josh Gottheimer, had refused to go along, saying the House must first pass the infrastructure bill, which has already won approval by Republicans and Democrats in the Senate.

Liberals, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have said they will not support the smaller package without the larger one, fearing they will lose leverage.

"These negotiations are never easy," said House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern.

Pelosi said the House would work with the Senate on the details of the massive budget outline, which Senate Democrats plan to pass using a maneuver that gets around that chamber's normal rules requiring 60 of the 100 senators to agree to pass most legislation.

House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy blasted Pelosi and other Democrats with bare-knuckle partisan rhetoric for working on an agreement to secure Biden's domestic spending priorities and voting legislation without addressing the crisis in Afghanistan.

"Maybe in your caucus, you think it is a great day for you and the Democrats," McCarthy said. "It's an embarrassing day to America, it's an embarrassing day for this floor and it's embarrassing that you would even move forward with it."

The Senate is split 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats. Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris would cast the tie-breaking vote.

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