Politics Infrastructure bill advances to Senate debate, clearing major hurdle after weeks of negotiations
What’s in the new infrastructure bill — and why it’s a big deal
The Senate-approved bill would genuinely impact many people’s lives.The bill, passed in a bipartisan 69-30 vote on Tuesday, includes a lot of measures that will help current and future generations: a major expansion of high-speed internet; spending for roads, bridges, and public transit; and funding for clean drinking water. It includes new measures to combat climate change, like money for electric vehicles and modernizing the power grid.
WASHINGTON – The Senateby this weekend now that it cleared an important procedural hurdle Wednesday.
By a vote of 67-32, senators voted to advance the bipartisan bill – the largest transportation bill in U.S. history – clearing the way for one of President Joe Biden's key priorities.
The vote to move the bill to formal debate came only hours after the White House announced it reached a deal with the Senate on a mammoth bipartisan infrastructure package.
Senators chart next steps on infrastructure after clearing key hurdle
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the Senate is on track to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the $3.5 trillion budget resolution before leaving for the August recess.Following the Senate's 67-to-32 vote to take up the measure, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Thursday that senators should prepare for a flurry of legislative activity in the coming days as part of his effort for the chamber to approve the roughly $1 trillion infrastructure deal and a budget resolution to serve as the blueprint for a broader, $3.5 trillion second infrastructure measure.
"This deal signals to the world that our democracy can function, deliver, and do big things. As we did with the transcontinental railroad and the interstate highway, we will once again transform America and propel us into the future," President Joe Biden said Wednesday in a statement released by the White House before the vote.
Roads, broadband and bridges:
Twenty-one centrist senators – 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats – have been trying to reach a compromise since Biden first unveiled hisin April.
Infrastructure package: Here's what's in it
President Joe Biden signed a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill into law Monday. It will deliver $550 billion of new federal investments in America's infrastructure over five years, touching everything from bridges and roads to the nation's broadband, water and energy systems. Experts say the money is sorely needed to ensure safe travel, as well as the efficient transport of goods and produce across the country. The nation's infrastructure system earned a C- score from the American Society of Civil Engineers earlier this year.
But their scope has been around traditional transportation infrastructure, not Biden's more ambitious proposals to address poverty, climate and economic injustice that progressives are demanding be part of a larger compromise.
Senate Republicanson bipartisan infrastructure legislation because the bill text and cost weren’t available at he time. This time, GOP senators said enough details about the deal had been agreed to get the ball rolling.
"Reaching this agreement was no easy task – but our constituents expect us to put in the hard work and show that two parties can still work together to address the needs of the American people," a bipartisan coalition of senators said in a statement.
Video: Time is short for Biden to get his infrastructure bill through the Senate (MSNBC)
Mitch McConnell says he's 'proud' of voting for Biden's $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill despite Trump's attacks
Trump hit out at McConnell for backing Biden's infrastructure bill. McConnell earlier said the bill was "a godsend for Kentucky."Speaking to The Washington Post on November 16, McConnell reiterated his support for the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, saying he was "proud" of his vote.
What's in the infrastructure bill agreement?
The deal includes about $550 billion in new funding above what the federal gas tax and other fees are expected to generate over the next eight years, according to the White House.
That money includes $40 billion in new funding for bridge repair and replacement, which the White House calls "the single largest dedicated bridge investment since the construction of the interstate highway system."
There's also $66 billion to modernize Amtrak and increase high-speed rail corridors across the nation, $55 billion to rehabilitate clean water systems, and $65 billion to expand broadband to the millions of Americans who found out how much a high-speed internet connection meant during the pandemic.
The package also would advance climate change priorities by spending $7.5 billion on electric charging stations and another $73 billion on clean energy transmission "by building thousands of miles of new, resilient transmission lines to facilitate the expansion of renewable energy," according to the White House.
Senators Reach Infrastructure Deal; Schumer Preps First Vote
A bipartisan group of senators and the White House reached a tentative agreement on a $550 billion infrastructure package, a significant breakthrough in the drive to muscle through Congress a massive infusion of spending for roads, bridges and other critical projects. © Bloomberg U.S. Labor, Business Lobbies Join To Tout Infrastructure Bill The agreement clears the way for a Senate vote Wednesday night that will begin floor consideration of the massive plan. If the procedural vote goes through as expected, the Senate likely could vote on passage this weekend or next week.
Does the plan raise taxes?
The White House said the eight-year bill projected to cost more than $1 trillion does not include a raise in the 18.4-cent per gallon federal gas tax or a new fee on electric vehicles, proposals that had once been considered to pay for the package.
But the White House was otherwise vague on how to pay for the measure, saying it would be financed "through a combination of redirecting unspent emergency relief funds, targeted corporate user fees, strengthening tax enforcement when it comes to crypto currencies, and other bipartisan measures."
It's not clear if taxes would be raised to pay for the bill, though Biden in his statement Wednesday said "we’re going to do it without raising taxes by one cent on people making less than $400,000 a year."
What happens next?
Even if it passes the Senate, the infrastructure bill still faces hurdles in the House.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Wednesday she needs to see the text before it will get her endorsement, and she reiterated she won't bring it to a vote unless the Senate also passes a resolution paving the way for a much broader, $3.5 trillion package of infrastructure spending that would include housing, health care and climate change improvements.
That larger bill, unlikely to get a single GOP vote, would have to pass through a budget process known as "reconciliation" which would allow Democrats to approve it without having to overcome a filibuster in the Senate.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY:
GOP Senator Cramer Dismisses Trump Criticism Over Infrastructure Vote, Touts Bill's Merits .
"I don't make my decision on legislation based on whether it hurts or helps Donald Trump," the North Dakota lawmaker said.The Senate approved the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package in August with the backing of 19 GOP senators—including Cramer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. The legislation was then passed in the House earlier this month with the support of 13 Republicans.