Senators left and right stand together to push infrastructure
“It’s something that brings this country together,” said Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, a chief negotiator. “We need the investment, let’s be honest.”
Senators cleared another hurdle Sunday night, easily crossing the threshold of the remaining 60 votes on a 68-29 vote, despite a few reluctant trying to miss debate time and drag the final move to Tuesday. The measure would then go to the House.
“A very beautiful and overwhelming vote,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y.
The rare bipartisan momentum reflects a center of political power that has sprung from the middle of the aisle into the tightly divided Congress. For weeks, senators negotiated and shaped the package, overcoming the partisan deadlock for a compromise with the White House Biden. A bipartisan group of House lawmakers have pledged their own support.
Backed by Biden and a large coalition of businesses, farmers, unions and public interest groups, the program is one of the largest such investments in years. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act seeks to inject nearly $ 550 billion in new spending for roads, bridges, high-speed Internet, water pipes and other public works systems that underpin the nation. About 20 Republican senators are about to join the Democrats in supporting him.
“Look at the players,” said Sen. Richard Burr, RN.C. “These are not the fringes of the two sides.”
Once the vote is over, senators will immediately turn to the budget outline for a $ 3.5 trillion package of child care, senior care and other programs that is a much bigger undertaking. partisan and which should only attract the support of Democrats.
Despite the momentum, the action came to a halt over the weekend when Senator Bill Hagerty, a Tennessee Republican allied with Trump, refused to speed up the process.
Hagerty, who had been Trump’s ambassador to Japan, pleaded for taking as much time as needed for debate and amendments, in part because he wants to slow the march towards the $ 3.5 trillion bill of Biden targeting so-called soft infrastructure.
Trump called Hagerty on Sunday morning, said a person familiar with the call who requested anonymity to discuss it. Hagerty said later Sunday that he was trying to prevent a “socialist debt bomb” from further government spending.
Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Has so far pushed the bill forward, calling it a “compromise.”
Senators have spent the past week dealing with nearly two dozen amendments to the 2,700-page package, but so far none have significantly changed its framework.
Other changes have been proposed on cryptocurrency, defense-related infrastructure, and to allow states to reallocate some of their untapped federal aid from COVID-19 relief to infrastructure. But we do not know if they will be taken into account for the votes.
Senators have found much to like about the bill, although it does not fully satisfy the Liberals, who consider it too small, or the Conservatives, who find it too large.
An analysis of the Congressional Budget Office bill has raised concerns, especially from Republicans after concluding that the legislation will increase deficits by around $ 256 billion over the next decade.
Unlike Biden’s larger $ 3.5 trillion package, which would be paid for by higher tax rates for businesses and the wealthy, the bipartisan package is funded by reallocating other funds, along with other cuts. expenditure and sources of income. Supporters of the bill argued that the budget office was unable to take into account certain sources of revenue, including those from future economic growth.
The House is expected to consider the two Biden infrastructure packages when he returns from vacation in September.