WASHINGTON – The Senate approved it on Tuesday a $ 1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, removing a major hurdle to the Biden administration ‘s top priority – but legislation must overcome more barriers before it becomes law.
With 69 to 30 votes, the senators approved the package, which would direct billions to the modernization of roads, bridges and transit systems in the country, and at the same time expand the fast internet systems and the national network of charging stations for electric vehicles. The bill now goes to the House.
The law envisions new spending of $ 550 billion. Major investments in the two-party package include $ 110 billion for roads and bridges, $ 39 billion for public transportation and $ 66 billion for railways. It also contains $ 55 billion for water and wastewater infrastructure, as well as billions for airports, seaports, broadband internet and charging stations for electric vehicles.
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The vote culminated in weeks of tense negotiations between the White House and a bipartisan group of about 20 senators trying to craft a centrist package that would attract enough Republicans to join any Democrat in overcoming filibusters to pass the law.
“When the Senate is run with open arms, not closed hands, senators can achieve great things,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., who called the effort a “late decade” to revive the country’s infrastructure. “Despite this long journey we have taken, we have finally finally reached our goal.”
To signal the importance of voting for the Biden administration, Vice President Kamala Harris presided over the vote in the role of Senate President.
President Joe Biden said the country is on the verge of transformational infrastructure improvements, but that work still needs to be done in the House. He said the laws could build an economy from the bottom up and from the middle outwards.
“There are no Republican bridges or democratic roads,” Biden said. “This is a moment that lives outside the headlines, outside the party sounds, outside the culture of current anger, misinformation and conflict as entertainment. This is about us doing a really hard management job. This is about democracy providing people. This is about conquering the future. ”
But the work is not far from over. Democrats in the Senate will now continue on the second track of their infrastructure agenda: an ambitious $ 3.5 trillion “human infrastructure” plan that seeks to improve housing, education and health care and take dramatic steps to address the growing threat of climate change.
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He is not expected to be backed by any Republicans, an obstacle Democratic leaders hope to submit to the bill through a legislative maneuver known as a budget reconciliation that would pass if all 50 Democratic senators voted for him, along with Harris’ casting vote. But already two Senate Democrats – Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Krysten Cinema of Arizona – have expressed reservations about the measure.
The problem for supporters of the bipartisan infrastructure law approved on Tuesday is that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, will not put the proposal to a vote unless the Senate passes a larger bill. Even if she wanted to vote for a bipartisan package, the Democratic Liberals in the House, who are seen as key to passing the law, have made it clear they will oppose it if they do not see the Senate adopting a “human infrastructure” measure.
“We are not voting for a bipartisan law without a reconciliation law,” Pramila Jayapal spokeswoman D-Wash., Who chairs the House’s Progressive Caucus, told the U.S. on Thursday.
Movement on a larger account could happen quickly. Schumer immediately went on to vote on a resolution setting the framework for a reconciliation law. Once that passes, consideration of the actual elements and language of the measure would begin with a final vote in the Senate later this fall.
More:The infrastructure bill is advancing in the Senate debate, removing a major hurdle after weeks of negotiations
The Congressional Budget Office reported Thursday the $ 1.2 trillion bill would add $ 256 billion to the projected deficit between 2021 and 2031, sparking criticism from some Republicans.
But in the end, the law received 19 Republican votes, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
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After the vote Tuesday, Biden said he called on a majority of the 19 Republican senators who voted in favor of the infrastructure bill to praise them.
“You, and no doubt you will, disagree with me on many issues. But where we can agree, we should,” he said. “And here on this bill, we have proven that we can still come together to do great things, important things, for the American people.”
Contributions: Associated Press; Rick Rouan, USA TODAY