The progress of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act in Congress has been stalled.
Although the bill was approved by the Senate in June, it has been held up by progressives in the House of Representatives because of an accompanying bill. A program for more investment in social safety programs accompanies the broader infrastructure bill under President Biden’s “Build Back Better” Plan. This plan includes funding for social safety nets like childcare, paid leave, housing as well as measures to fight climate change.
Senators allocated $1.5 trillion to go toward the social safety plan, but the Congressional Progressive Caucus, chaired by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), is pushing for a higher budget, according to NPR. “That’s too small to get our priorities in," Jayapal told CNN. "The critical thing is, let's get our priorities in, and then we will figure out what it actually costs." Progressives have been seeking a number closer to $3.5 trillion.
Because of this discrepancy in funding concerns, progressives in the House are withholding support on the broader infrastructure bill until more funding is allocated for the social safety programs.
One leader in the pumps industry has expressed his disappointment with the holdup in proceedings.
“Today, American families and businesses are paying the price while the House plays politics and fails to pass the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act,” said Tom Smith, executive director of the American Society of Civil Engineers, in a press release. “We urge the House to pass this bipartisan, commonsense legislation today to create jobs, make goods and services move more quickly and reliably, and make American communities more climate-resilient. Our infrastructure bill has come due, and now is the time to act.”
Doug Carlson, CEO of the National Utility Contractors Association, also commented on the delay to pass needed infrastructure funding.
"House leadership has failed to recognize that clean water is not a political issue," Carlson said. "Infrastructure is foremost an investment in every American community’s well-being, economic growth, and the hope of a better future for millions of citizens. I urge the U.S. House to pass this bipartisan legislation without delay. Our obsolete infrastructure is not fixing itself.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has since said that he plans to have the matter resolved and both bills passed by the end of October.
“Not every member will get everything he or she wanted,” Schumer wrote to Senate Democrats, according to CNBC. “But at the end of the day, we will pass legislation that will dramatically improve the lives of the American people. I believe we are going to do just that in the month of October.”