Far-left Democrats and centrist Republicans in the House who bucked their party leadership on an infrastructure bill vote had similar reactions to West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin’s announcement that he would not support Democrats’ sweeping Build Back Better social spending, climate, and tax bill: Told you so.
For the members of the so-called “Squad” who voted against a separate infrastructure bill in November, Manchin’s effective killing of the bill, which cannot pass without his vote, represented exactly what they warned would happen if the House passed the infrastructure bill without firm commitment from Manchin or a Senate vote on Build Back Better.
“We have been saying for weeks that this would happen,” Missouri Democratic Rep. Cori Bush said on MSNBC Sunday. “What we had was a bit of leverage, which was having the coupling of the two bills — the BIF, the infrastructure package, as well as the Build Back Better Act … And what did the caucus do? We tossed it.”
On the Republican side, the validation took a celebratory tone. Some of the 13 House Republicans who voted for the infrastructure legislation despite leadership whipping against the bill, prompting retaliation from conservatives in the conference, said Manchin's decision proved that the infrastructure bill was not linked to the massive tax-and-spend bill as leadership warned. Many had argued that passing the infrastructure bill alone was a good tactical move because it would take away leverage from liberals.
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New York Rep. Tom Reed, one of the 13 Republicans who voted for the bill, said in a statement Sunday that Manchin’s rejection of Build Back Better proved that the infrastructure bill was a “major victory for our country.”
“Unlike the political talking points, the two were never linked,” Reed said. “Once the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill was passed, the far left was no longer able to exert leverage to force their socialist wish list of Build Back Better upon the country. Left on its own, Build Back Better is destined to fail.”
The $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill passed in the Senate in August with the support of 19 Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that she would not bring the bill up for a vote until the Senate also passed the Build Back Better bill through a special reconciliation process that allowed Democrats to bypass the need for any Republican support but would need support from all 50 other Democrats and two independents to pass.
But as negotiations dragged on with Manchin, the most conservative Democrat in the Senate, Pelosi’s position changed and she moved to pass the infrastructure bill. The House Progressive Caucus for months said that they would vote against the infrastructure bill without a firm commitment on Build Back Better, but they eventually also relented.
The six far-left members of the so-called Squad, though, voted against the bill.
New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted that “many ridiculed our position” after she and the other five left-wing Democrats voted against the infrastructure bill. “Maybe they’ll believe us next time. Or maybe people will just keep calling us naïve.”
When a handful of us in the House warned this would happen if Dem leaders gave Manchin everything he wanted 1st by moving BIF before BBB instead of passing together, many ridiculed our position.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) December 19, 2021
Maybe they’ll believe us next time. Or maybe people will just keep calling us naïve. https://t.co/TtKW6VOOCF
“It worked out just as planned. We got infrastructure, Build Back Better is dead and we live to fight another day,” said New York Republican Rep. Nicole Malliotakis.
House Democrats have such a narrow majority that the infrastructure bill would have failed without the support of at least a few Republicans to make up for the six Democrats who voted against the bill. Far more than that, 13 Republicans, voted for it despite warnings that the infrastructure bill was a “Trojan Horse” for the “socialist” Build Back Better bill.
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“Many of us feel vindicated for voting for our districts and country with the infrastructure bill and despite being attacked by some saying the BBB and BIF were inextricably linked,” Nebraska Republican Rep. Don Bacon told Politico. “In actuality, passing the BIF removed the leverage that was being used to push the BBB.”
Malliotakis flaunted that far-left members were upset, highlighting a tweet from Minnesota Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar that called Manchin’s reasoning “bullshit” and lamenting that “this is exactly what we warned would happen if we separated Build Back Better from infrastructure.”
And it worked out just as planned. We got infrastructure, Build Back Better is dead and we live to fight another day.🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/h3HGqKX4si— Nicole Malliotakis (@NMalliotakis) December 19, 2021