OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
The group of progressives in the House of Representatives known as The Squad stuck to their guns against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the establishment Democrats.
On Friday the House voted 228 – 206 to pass the $1.2 trillion after months of delays and infighting which means the bill now goes to the desk of Joe Biden for his signature, CNN reported.
But six Democrats voted no, and they were Rep. Jamaal Bowman of New York and Squad members Reps. Cori Bush of Missouri, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.
“I have said that me personally, I want to see both of the bills come and pass simultaneously,” Rep. Omar said to The Independent. “That wasn’t the case. I voted no on the BIF as I promised.”
“This isn’t really about whether there is trust or not,” she said. “It’s about making a promise on what you will do and sticking with it and that’s what I’ve done.”
But Rep. Pressley was more direct in her opposition in a press release on the day of the vote.
“For months, my progressive colleagues and I have been calling for bold investments to address both the human and physical infrastructure needs of our country. We have been clear from the onset that any vote on the narrow roads and bridges bill must happen in tandem with a vote on the Build Back Better Act that invests in our care economy, housing, paid leave, combating climate change, and more,” she said.
“We had an agreement that these two bills would move together—not that we would vote for one in exchange for a potential vote on the other if certain conditions were met. Unfortunately, that agreement was not honored. As such, I voted no tonight on the narrow roads and bridges bill.
“I refuse to choose between the livelihoods of the union workers who build our highways and bridges, and the childcare and healthcare workers who care for our children, elderly, and disabled loved ones. I refuse to choose between our crumbling roads, bridges public transit system, and our crumbling housing stock. I refuse to pit community member against community member,” the representative said.
“As lawmakers, we have a duty to deliver policies and budgets that have a meaningful and tangible impact on the daily lives of our constituents and leave no community behind. I look forward to continuing the work of passing the President’s full Build Back Better agenda,” she said.
And Rep. Bush issued a statement of her own, like Pressley, vowing to vote for the massive Build Back Better reconciliation bill.
“When I was sworn in, I promised to do the absolute most for everyone in St. Louis, starting with those that have the least. I have been abundantly clear in my position from day one of these negotiations: St. Louis deserves the President’s entire agenda. My vote tonight upheld my word — not only to House leadership, but to every person in my district who deserves a Congresswoman they trust to never stop advocating for them,” she said.
“Each and every one of my votes here in D.C. has been in the interest of saving lives. And tonight was no different. A vote in favor of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act alone would have jeopardized our leverage to improve the livelihood of our health care workers, our children, our caregivers, our seniors, and the future of our environment. That’s why I joined several of my close colleagues in standing firm behind our promise to our districts and the American people that we will not leave our communities behind.
“Now that the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act has passed, I look forward to helping the President deliver on his promise to pass the Build Back Better Act through the House and Senate. The people, and especially St. Louis, must win — that’s the change that millions turned up at the ballot box for last November, and that’s the change they support our President in delivering on now,” she said.
The bill would have been stopped by these “no” votes but Republicans stepped in and gave 13 “yes” votes to pass the legislation.