The Senate voted to advance a $1.2 trillion infrastructure measure, setting up final passage as soon as this weekend.
Lawmakers held an atypical Saturday session to continue working on the infrastructure measure, cutting into the scheduled August recess.
Democrats and Republicans will vote on more amendments before wrapping up, which could happen Sunday or later — depending on whether GOP lawmakers push to run out the clock on debate.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, said the Senate would not adjourn until the measure is passed.
“We can get this done the easy way or the hard way,” Schumer said on the Senate floor. “In either case, the Senate will stay in session until we finish our work. It’s up to my Republican colleagues how long it takes.”
Senators are negotiating an amendment addressing the taxation of cryptocurrency and are also expected to consider an amendment by Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, and Sen. Alex Padilla, a California Democrat, that would allow states to use up to 30% of unspent COVID-19 aid funds for infrastructure.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, praised the measure but urged Democrats who control the majority to allow debate on more amendments.
“There are many outstanding amendments that are important, that would improve this legislation, and that deserve votes before the Senate is asked to vote on final passage of this bill,” McConnell said.
Senate Minority Whip John Thune, a South Dakota Republican, seemed pessimistic when reporters asked about bipartisan negotiations that would finalize the amendment process and speed up passage.
“I don’t think they are really going well,” Thune told reporters who asked about the talks.
The overall bill calls for $550 billion in new spending on roads, bridges, waterways, and expanding broadband, as well as mass transit and rail.
It includes $7.5 billion to build electric vehicle charging stations.
The measure is expected to pass with bipartisan support.
At least 10 Republicans are needed to end debate in Saturday’s vote, which would set up final passage by a simple majority — although that may not take place until next week.
President Joe Biden has been touting the bill for weeks and tweeted in support of its passage Saturday morning.
“The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal is a historic, once-in-a-generation investment in our nation’s infrastructure. It will create good-paying, union jobs repairing our roads and bridges, replacing lead pipes, and building energy transmission lines,” Biden tweeted. “We can’t afford not to do it.”
The Office of Management and Budget issued a statement supporting the bill Saturday.
“This legislation would make life better for Americans across the country, create a generation of good-paying union jobs, grow our economy, invest in communities that have too often been left behind, and better position the United States to compete globally and win in the 21st century,” the OMB statement read.
Many Republicans voted against advancing the bill, reinforced by a government analysis released Thursday indicating that the infrastructure bill will increase the deficit by $256 billion over 10 years.
“This mammoth infrastructure bill is not paid for,” Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, tweeted Saturday. “It’s money we’re borrowing from China and debt that we are gifting to the next generation.”
Sen. Tom Carper, a Delaware Democrat and a leading infrastructure negotiator, said the measures make “historic investments” in infrastructure and are the product of now-rare bipartisan cooperation in the Senate, including the largest federal investment ever in transit and clean water infrastructure, among other provisions.
His GOP counterpart in the negotiations, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, praised the bill.
“I’m a West Virginian, and all West Virginians and all Americans will benefit from the roads, bridges, water infrastructure, broadband, and other modes of core infrastructure that would be financed through this bill,” she said.
Author : Susan Ferrechio
Source : Washington Examiner : Senate advances $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill