Democratic U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar voted against a roughly $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill Friday, after tensions among Democrats continued around the party's efforts on a separate $1.85 trillion spending plan.
Despite the defections of Omar and the other five progressive Democrats called "The Squad," the bipartisan infrastructure package passed the House in a 228-206 vote. Thirteen Republicans voted to back the bill, which now goes to President Joe Biden for his signature.
The vote came at the end of a lengthy day when Democrats tried to come together and make progress on major pieces of Biden's legislative agenda.
"From the beginning, I have been clear that I would not be able to support the infrastructure bill without a vote on the Build Back Better Act," Omar, the whip of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said in a statement that referred to the $1.85 trillion spending plan.
"Passing the infrastructure bill without passing the Build Back Better Act first risks leaving behind child care, paid leave, health care, climate action, housing, education, and a road map to citizenship."
The bipartisan infrastructure bill passed the Senate back in August, with Minnesota's two Democratic senators and 19 Republicans supporting the legislation. In the House on Friday, Minnesota's three other Democratic members supported the bipartisan bill, while the state's four GOP members voted no.
"Today, we made good on our promises to invest in America's highways, roads, bridges and broadband for our rural communities," Democratic Rep. Angie Craig said in a statement. "This bipartisan package will create millions of good paying jobs, help our economic recovery and rebuild our nation's crumbling infrastructure for future generations."
A fact sheet released in August by the White House detailed the likelihood that Minnesota would see billions from the Republican and Democratic penned legislation including $4.5 billion for highways, $302 million for bridge repairs and replacement and more than $818 million over five years for public transportation.
At least $100 million was expected for broadband in the state, with the White House estimating that Minnesota would see $680 million during a five-year span to improve water infrastructure along with around $297 million focused on airports, according to the Biden administration.
"Investments in roads, bridges, waterways, energy, broadband, and the future of our nation is a unifying need and opportunity," Democratic U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips said in a statement. "This package will allow our nation to make smart, fiscally responsible investments in our infrastructure and in our people."
Republicans have vocally criticized the $1.85 trillion Build Back Better Act that Democrats are trying to pass through a special procedural route. That spending plan was a focus of Republicans in comments Friday after the bipartisan infrastructure bill passed the House.
"Regrettably, Nancy Pelosi and other Democrat leaders made it abundantly clear that the $1.2 trillion Senate infrastructure bill is inextricably linked to their bloated multi-trillion-dollar tax-and-spend package," GOP Rep. Pete Stauber said in a statement. "I will not be complicit in paving a destructive and irreversible path towards socialism."
Republican Rep. Tom Emmer said in a statement that "the House voted on a bill that directs only a fraction of its overall spending towards improving roads and bridges, and lays the groundwork for passage of President Biden's multi-trillion dollar socialist wish list."
The no vote on infrastructure from Omar came just days after Tuesday's election results saw Democrats lose the governor's race in Virginia, a state Biden easily won last year. Aftershocks from the party's showing at the polls is adding to tensions around Democrats' odds at maintaining control of the House in the 2022 midterm elections.
In her statement late Friday, Omar focused on issues within Minnesota and pointed to child care costs, a housing shortage and climate issues as she explained the reasons behind her vote.
"My community cannot wait any longer for these much-needed investments that will be delivered through the Build Back Better Act," Omar said. "I cannot in good conscience support the infrastructure bill without voting on the President's transformative agenda first."
Hunter Woodall • 612-673-4559