The U.S. Senate aims to pass next week a bipartisan $550 billion infrastructure bill that is a cornerstone of President
Senators convened for an unusual Saturday session, but bipartisan negotiators failed to produce a bill by midday to allow an amendment process to begin.
Senate Majority Leader
“The longer it takes to finish, the longer we will be here,” the New York Democrat said. “But we are going to get the job done.” The infrastructure
The legislation was formally put up for debate Friday, a milestone after weeks of stop-and-go negotiations. The 66-28 vote to move ahead reflected the broad bipartisan support for the plan in the evenly divided Senate.
Still, lawmakers weren’t able to meet a self-imposed goal of finishing the text of the bill Friday afternoon, and there will be days of debate on amendments that will push a final vote on the legislation to late next week. Republicans are calling for an open amendment process, which could lead to dozens of votes over several days. In anticipation of the text delay, many left Washington Friday night.
Senate passage of the infrastructure bill would set the stage for later consideration of a budget resolution that could facilitate the rest of Biden economic agenda, a $3.5 trillion overhaul of policies on climate change, taxes, health care, immigration and other Democratic Party priorities.
Under Senate rules, Democrats will be able to get that approved without Republican votes, if they can stay unified on the size and scope of the package. Budget Committee Chairman
“With the cooperation of our Republican colleagues, I believe we can finish the bipartisan infrastructure bill in a matter of days,” Schumer said.
The legislation, which would mark the biggest investment in infrastructure in decades, was negotiated by the White House and a bipartisan group of senators led by Democrat
The legislation includes $110 billion in new spending for roads and bridges, $73 billion of electric grid upgrades, $66 billion for rail and
The legislation’s supporters say its costs would be fully offset, in part by re-purposing $200 billion in unspent Covid-19 relief funds, sales from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, higher customs user fees and more reporting requirements on cryptocurrency transactions. It also taps a number of budget gimmicks, like counting revenue from future economic growth.
Several Republican senators, including
“If Republicans were on board for former President Trump, we are one-third the cost and have it paid for, it seems like something that should be acceptable,” Cassidy said on Bloomberg TV.
In Friday’s vote, the second procedural hurdle for the infrastructure plan this week, 16 Republicans -- including Minority Leader
A half-dozen Republicans didn’t vote:
Senate leaders and the negotiators dealt with last minute glitches that caused a slight delay before the vote to move forward on Friday.
Among those were last-minute changes to language on a provision for grants to states to build out broadband internet and funding for water projects.
Environment and Public Works Chairman
(Updates with Senate Republicans, in sixth paragraph.)
--With assistance from
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John Harney, Megan Scully
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