Posted 5 months ago
The Senate passed a bipartisan agreement on infrastructure Tuesday, but the $1.2 trillion package still must navigate the House amid negotiations between Democrats on a larger budget bill.
The bipartisan plan approved by the Senate with a 69-30 vote would spend roughly $550 billion in new money on roads, bridges, waterways, public transits, railways, the power grid and broadband internet. It’s the first step in a two-part plan being pushed forward by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer in an attempt to unite his party and push through President Biden’s ambitious domestic agenda despite Democrats’ exceedingly narrow congressional majorities.
The infrastructure deal that cleared the Senate was a priority of the White House and moderate Democrats in Congress. Progressives have been critical of the bill, which came in at about a quarter of Biden’s initial proposal, for spending too little on provisions related to climate change. Senate Democrats will now turn their attention to the budget bill — the second step in their strategy — which will require support from all 50 members of their caucus to pass via reconciliation, a maneuver that allows them to circumvent a filibuster.
The initial $3.5 trillion budget proposal would result in a transformation of the country’s social safety net, including provisions that would expand Medicare coverage, institute universal pre-K, fund elder care and establish a Civilian Climate Corps, with some of the funding coming via higher taxes on corporations and Americans making over $400,000. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has repeatedly said she will not take up the bipartisan infrastructure agreement for a vote in the House until the larger budget reconciliation legislation is also passed in the Senate.
Schumer has expressed confidence that the two-track plan will work, stating that he intended to move quickly on the budget resolution. The reconciliation process was used earlier this year to pass the COVID-19 relief package in March despite unanimous Republican opposition.
“We have managed to steer two trains at the same time,” Schumer said Monday. “There have been some bumps, there have been some delays but the Senate is on track to finish both tracks.”
The White House has sought to pass a bipartisan bill for months, hoping to fulfill Biden’s campaign promise that he’d be able to work with Republicans. The bill passed by the Senate on Tuesday is the product of lengthy negotiations that began back in the spring.
Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, said Monday that a number of Republicans embraced the bipartisan bill in large part because they knew Democrats could pass infrastructure legislation without them.
“There were only two choices here,” Romney, who was heavily involved in the negotiations, told Politico. “One option is: We do a bipartisan bill. And the other option is: The Democrats do a bill on their own. There’s not an option of ‘don’t do anything. [Minority Leader Mitch] McConnell recognized this was a better option than just letting the Democrats do this on their own.”
Pelosi has received some pushback from members of her caucus who want her to not wait on the second piece of legislation before passing the infrastructure deal. CNN reported Saturday that moderate members of the House Democratic Caucus were circulating a letter to Pelosi calling on her to hold a vote on the bipartisan plan, saying, “This once-in-a-century investment deserves its own consideration, without regard to other legislation.”
Meanwhile, House progressives have insisted that their support for the bipartisan deal is contingent on the budget resolution also passing the Senate.
Some prominent members of the House Democratic Caucus have also expressed dissatisfaction with the bipartisan infrastructure bill. House Transportation Chairman Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., called the bipartisan agreement “crap” in a meeting last week and said afterward, “I could give a damn about the White House. We’re an independent branch of government. They cut this deal. I didn’t sign off on it.”
A number of Republicans supported the bill despite consistent criticism from former President Donald Trump, who has railed against the agreement for weeks. During his four years in office, Trump’s administration repeatedly expressed interest in an infrastructure deal but was unable to secure one.
Although it wasn’t enough to stop the infrastructure bill, the opposition from Trump may have had an impact: Two GOP senators up for reelection in 2022, Todd Young of Indiana and Jerry Moran of Kansas, flipped from supporting the initial framework to opposing the final deal. Moran said in a statement that he had “hoped this bipartisan plan would dissuade Democrats from pursuing their own partisan, $3.5 trillion tax-and-spend spree.”
South Dakota Republican Sen. Mike Rounds, who missed Tuesday’s votes to be with his wife while she received cancer treatment, also said he would oppose the bill despite supporting the negotiations.
Tags: infrastructure bill US Senate