President Biden’s $3.5 trillion Build Back Better plan and $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill has caused central Florida’s three Democratic Congress members to take different sides.
U.S. Representatives Val Demings (D-FL-10) and Darren Soto (D-FL-9) have expressed support for both of Biden’s plans, while U.S. Representative Stephanie Murphy (D-FL-7) has questioned the contents of the Build Back Better plan, as well as the process or “strategy” Democratic leaders are taking to get it passed.
According to a report by The Florida Capital Star, the disagreements among Democrats can be summarized as the House Progressive Caucus vowing to vote against the infrastructure bill unless they get the full $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill. It adds that the bill is chock-full of their pricey policy priorities, including a few that former President Donald Trump tried to advance with limited success.
Among the three central Florida Democrats, Murphy is one of nine other moderate Democrats who wants to focus on the less expensive infrastructure bill and address the Build Back Better plan at a later time.
Referring to Nancy Pelosi’s decision to delay the bipartisan vote on the infrastructure bill on October 1st, Murphy released a statement the same day saying:
“While I have great respect for the Speaker, I believe her decision to again delay a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill is wrong, … The Speaker delayed the vote because some of my Democratic colleagues, in a misguided effort to gain ‘leverage’ over their fellow Democrats in the negotiations on the separate Build Back Better Act, have threatened to vote against a very good infrastructure bill. I hope my colleagues will reconsider their approach.”
She added, “My position has been clear from day one. I support passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill. I also support passage of a Build Back Better Act that is as bold as the votes will bear, that is fiscally disciplined, and that prioritizes measures to combat climate change.
However, she concluded, “There is no—zero—linkage between these two bills in my mind. I will continue to assess each bill on its own merits and to cast my vote accordingly. No member of Congress, and certainly no member of my own party, has the slightest leverage over my vote. I will do what I believe is in the best interest of my constituents and my country, and what comports with my conscience.”
Soto, on the other hand, feels the opposite. In an interview on Friday, Soto told the Orlando Sentinel that he would have voted on the infrastructure bill “on its own, if that was the only option, given the great growth and need for it in Central Florida.”
He added, “Now, though, the president came to the caucus and asked us to link them, and we are certainly following the leader of our Democratic [Party] and making sure that we’re all in line,” he said. “So now, yes, they’re linked.”
Demings, who is running for Senator against Republican Senator Marco Rubio in 2022, has not directly commented on the strategy of how Democratic leaders want to pass both bills, but has shown support of the policies within them.
“We have a real chance here to rebuild broken roads and bridges, ensure access to clean drinking water and broadband, and invest in people who have to go to work every day,” Demings said, according to the Sentinel.
“These are issues that have been around for decades, and we hear a lot of talk, but nobody ever does anything. Well, we’re going to actually do something about it, even if it’s a tough fight in Washington,” she added.
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Casey Owens is a contributing writer for The Florida Capital Star. Follow him on Twitter at @cowensreports. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Val Demings” by Val Demings. Photo “Darren Soto” by US Rep Darren Soto. Photo “Stephanie Murphy” by U.S. Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy. Background Photo “White House” by AgnosticPreachersKid. CC BY-SA 3.0.