The House of Representatives passed a $715 billion five-year surface transportation bill Thursday in a bipartisan manner as senators worked to get enough congressional support for their own infrastructure plan named the Invest Act. The bill passed 221 to 201 on a near party-line vote.
The Invest Act passage follows an agreement between President Joe Biden and a bipartisan group of senators on a $579 billion infrastructure plan.
Oregon Democratic Rep. Peter DeFazio, the chair of the House Transportation Committee and the House bill’s author, has yet to say whether the House and Senate will work through the differences in the two bills in order to reach a compromise that is likely to pass both chambers, noting that details of the bipartisan agreement have yet to be released.
“The Senate bipartisan deal is an outline, and it has good numbers,” DeFazio said during a press conference Wednesday. “I believe we could work out the spending levels in the bill, but there is no policy attached to their proposal.”
If passed in the senate, it would allocate $343 billion to roads, bridges and related safety measures, $109 billion to public transit, $95 billion to freight and passenger rail, $117 billion to drinking water infrastructure and $51 billion to wastewater infrastructure.
Last week, Biden said that both bills had to be passed “in tandem,” but walked back his remarks on Saturday after Senate Republicans objected and threatened to withdraw their support for the bipartisan bill. Biden said, “My comments created the impression that I was issuing a veto threat on the very plan I had just agreed to, which was certainly not my intent.”
However, House Speaker Nancy Pelos has said that she will not bring a bipartisan infrastructure to the floor until the Senate passes a reconciliation bill with funding for climate change provisions, child care, education and other Democratic priorities. Biden also supports the reconciliation bill, but none of the Republicans have shown any support.