New polling released by the bipartisan organization No Labels indicates that while the “bipartisan” $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan nearing passage in the U.S. Senate has widespread support from a broad swath of voters, a much more expensive Democrat-only “human infrastructure bill” could be much less popular with the voting public.
The three-to-four trillion dollar spending bill, which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has declared essential for the House to then vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill, could become an albatross around the necks of Congressional Democrats running in tight races, according to initial polling conducted in swing districts. The poll included Congressional Districts in the Philadelphia region like Pennsylvania’s First District, represented by Republican moderate Brian Fitzpatrick, and New Jersey’s Fifth and Seventh Congressional Districts, represented by Democrats Josh Gottheimer and Tom Malinowski, respectively. Across the districts, the No Labels poll showed that the Democrat-only “reconciliation” bill is currently much less popular than the bipartisan infrastructure bill — particularly among independents who determine elections in many such districts.
In Rep. Fitzpatrick’s district, encompassing Bucks County and a small sliver of Montgomery County, 75 percent of total voters support the bipartisan bill, including a strong majority of Republicans (64 percent) and independents (68 percent).
The trend continued in Pennsylvania’s Seventeenth Congressional District, currently represented by Democrat Conor Lamb, who has a reputation as a centrist but has voted more with his party in preparation for a run for U.S. Senate. There, 56 percent of Republicans and 67 percent of independents supported the bipartisan infrastructure bill — but widely opposed the Democrat-only proposed legislation, which is set to cover what House Democrats are calling “human infrastructure” like child care and green energy subsidies.
The poll found that 64 percent of independent voters in PA-17 would oppose such a package. Overall, 57 percent of PA-17 voters oppose such legislation.
Though the No Labels poll shows support for the bipartisan plan, not everyone is happy. Critics on the Right, including former President Trump, have expressed frustration over the Congressional GOP’s refusal to pass a much smaller infrastructure bill during the Trump presidency, while critics on the Left argue that the proposed $1.2 trillion legislation does not go far enough.
In a recent piece in the Washington Times, columnist and Trump alumni Kelly Sadler argues that “back in 2018, Congressional Republicans were happy to be the party of no — when Donald J. Trump was president and proposed his $200 billion infrastructure plan, which now seems modest in comparison.”
She calls Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and the GOP hypocrites for blocking Trump’s plan on the basis of fiscal responsibility, while the new plan supported by seventeen Senate Republicans is five times more expensive.
Others have argued that the details of the 2,702 page infrastructure bill are not known to the public, and that its expedited process has not been transparent. For example, one conservative columnist wrote that the bill “carves out broad exemptions from ‘Buy American’ mandates”, and that these exemptions are not adequately publicized.
Meanwhile, progressives, such as Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, are warning they have “more than enough votes” to tank the bipartisan infrastructure bill if it is not coupled with a separate spending bill — and have gone after Democratic moderates like Senator Kyrsten Sinema for suggesting that an additional Democrat-only reconciliation bill has too high a price tag at over three trillion dollars.
Cortez accused Sinema of “tanking” the Democrat’s legislation and “excluding members of color from negotiations”. Cortez did not elaborate on the latter claim.
With a Congressional majority at stake in 2022 and inflation spurred by federal spending on the rise, the No Labels polling data will be of interest to both Democratic and Republican campaigns as the details of both the bipartisan bill and the Democrat-only reconciliation bill emerge.
Joe Silverstein is the summer Editorial Intern at Broad + Liberty. He is a rising senior at Cornell University, where he studies Government and International Relations. Silverstein serves as the current Editor in Chief of the Cornell Review.