Infrastructure bill 2021: Senate heads to final vote on bipartite package this week

WASHINGTON – The massive $ 1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package is set to go to a final Senate vote this week after removing the final procedural hurdle after months of furious negotiations.

On Sunday evening, the chamber voted 68-29 to invoke closure on the underlying legislation, setting up a final vote after the 30-hour deadline expired after the closure on Tuesday morning, unless there was have an agreement to speed up the process.

After Tuesday’s vote, the Senate will quickly turn its attention to the budget resolution, which must first be passed by both houses of Congress before the Democrats can move on to their separate $ 3.5 trillion package, which they hope they can pass with Democratic votes.

“The two-pronged process is moving forward,” Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said. “It took a while, but it will be worth it because, hopefully, we will pass both bills very, very soon.”

Lawmakers have been heading for a final vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill for days, considering 22 amendments to the package last week after the legislation was finalized the previous weekend. On Saturday, the Senate voted to break a blockage and move the bill forward.

“We are days away, maybe hours away from seeing this historic legislation that will give us better roads and bridges, better ports and airports, a better future for our economy and the creation of millions of jobs,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told Fox News. Sunday morning.

“We are about to see this pass in the Senate. “

The massive bipartisan infrastructure package, called the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, is the culmination of long and laborious negotiations between a bipartisan group of senators and the Biden administration and will see both sides claim victory after extensive work in the aisle.

It includes $ 550 billion in new federal spending over five years. The measure invests $ 110 billion in financing roads, bridges and major projects, $ 66 billion in passenger and freight rail transport, $ 65 billion to rebuild the power grid, $ 65 billion to expand broadband Internet access and $ 39 billion to modernize and expand transit systems.

Among many other priorities, the bill also provides $ 55 billion for water infrastructure, of which $ 15 billion will be spent on replacing lead pipes.

And while senators are confident the bill will pass, the bill faces an uncertain future in the House.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has indicated that the chamber will not pass the bipartisan bill until Senate Democrats pass their biggest social and environmental infrastructure package – a position that continues to hold true. be the subject of criticism from Republicans and some moderate Democrats.

GOP senators who support the bipartisan infrastructure bill note that there are major differences between their bill and the Democratic package. They say it’s critical for Republicans to show they’re not just an instinctive opposition party and can instead find consensus on pressing national issues important to voters.

But a Congressional Budget Office report that the bipartisan package “will add $ 256 billion to projected deficits” between 2021 and 2031 has complicated the deliberations of some GOP senators.

Republican Senator Todd Young, who initially approved the bipartisan agreement and previously voted to cut the debate, announced Sunday evening that he would vote against the bill. The Indiana Republican, who faces re-election next year, pointed to the CBO’s rating of the legislation and said he was “uncomfortable with a number of Democratic priorities contained in this version “.

“As I have said on several occasions, while I look forward to a bill that makes these investments, I also commit to doing so in a fiscally responsible manner,” he said in a statement.

South Dakota Senator John Thune, the Republican whip who has yet to say if he runs for a new term next year, did not rule out last week supporting the bill when it is passed final. But he had a warning for the GOP.

“I think the policy works for both sides,” said Thune, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate. “I think if you’re a Republican you want to prove that you’re not just here to completely block and shut down the whole agenda if you find areas that are good for, you know, the country and then you want to be a part of trying to solve these problems. “

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