The Senate voted Wednesday to advance a bipartisan infrastructure plan, a crucial step in the Democrats’ approval of their comprehensive economic agenda.
Senators voted 67-32 to move the bill forward; 17 Republicans and all 50 Democrats voted yes.
The vote opens the process to debate and amend the proposal, which would put $ 550 billion in transport, broadband and utilities. While senators who backed the procedural motion could oppose a final package, Wednesday’s vote bodes well for his chances of passing.
“Despite the popularity and the need, Washington failed,” said Ohio GOP Senator Rob Portman, the lead GOP negotiator for the deal, after the infrastructure vote. “This time we will do it.”
The deal came about earlier in the day after Democratic and Republican negotiators settled disputes over funding for transit and broadband, among other things. The plan was cut from the Senators’ $ 579 billion in new spending, and the White House approved last month – a sum many Democrats considered meager.
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The senators have not published final laws.
Proponents of the bill have hailed it as a necessary investment that will boost the economy as the US tries to get out of the coronavirus pandemic. Democrats still face a number of pitfalls in trying to get the bipartisan bill and its separate $ 3.5 trillion spending package on President Joe Biden’s desk in the coming months.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks briefly to reporters after meeting the Senate Democrats at the U.S. Capitol on July 28, 2021 in Washington, DC.
Drew Angerer | Getty Images
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., must keep all 50 members of his faction and at least 10 Republicans on board to ensure the infrastructure plan is passed. The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, D-California, has to win progressive support for the smaller than desired bill in a narrowly divided chamber.
A second separate $ 3.5 trillion plan to invest in childcare, paid vacation, education, and climate change mitigation could pose further problems. Every Senate Democrat must back the package to pass it without a Republican vote.
Some Democrats, like Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema, have signaled they want a smaller final budget reconciliation bill. Sinema was the leading democratic negotiator on the bipartisan bill.
US Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) (L) and Mitt Romney (R-UT) arrive for a bipartisan meeting on infrastructure after the failed talks with the White House on June 8, 2021 in Washington, DC.
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Attempts to appease centrists could alienate liberals who fear the bipartisan infrastructure bill is not doing enough to combat climate change or strengthen the social safety net.
Schumer plans to pass both the bipartisan bill and the budget resolution setting up the reconciliation process before the Senate goes on hiatus next month. The Senate must hurry to pass both measures on Schumer’s schedule in an institution not known for speed.
Pelosi has insisted she won’t bring the infrastructure bill or budget measure to the house until the Senate passes both of them.
After the vote on Wednesday, Schumer emphasized that the Senate was on the right track to meet its deadline. The chamber’s hiatus begins Aug. 9, but he said the Senate could stay in session longer to pass the measures.
“My goal remains to pass both the bipartisan infrastructure law and a budget resolution during this phase of work. Both,” he said. “It could take a few long nights. It could eat up our weekends. But we’ll get the job done. And we’re on the right track.”
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