The Senate on Wednesday voted to advance a $1 trillion infrastructure deal after weeks of bipartisan negotiations, The New York Times reports.
The Senate voted 67 to 31 to start debate on the bill, with 17 Republicans joining every Democrat in the chamber to advance the legislation. Former President Donald Trump, apparently stung by Republicans' inability to advance infrastructure legislation during his term, called on the party to oppose the bill because it would give Democrats a "win," and threatened to back primary challengers to the legislation's supporters.
The bill would provide about $550 billion in new funding and repurpose the rest from existing programs to fund investments in bridges, roads, rail, transit, water, broadband, and other physical infrastructure.
The vote was a win for President Joe Biden and centrist senators who insisted on a bipartisan infrastructure deal but the Senate has yet to vote on the actual bill, which has not been finalized, and at least 10 Republicans will need to be on board with the final proposal to avoid a filibuster and vote on the bill.
Democrats are also planning to press forward on a $3.5 trillion spending bill that would pay for other Biden priorities that progressives said was necessary to win over their votes on the bipartisan deal, which provides far less than the $2+ trillion plan proposed by Biden.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has vowed to advance both simultaneously, predicting quick passage.
What’s in the bill?
The bill provides $110 billion to repair and improve roads, bridges, and other major infrastructure projects, a top priority for both parties.
The bill will also provide $66 billion for rail and $39 billion for public transit, key Democratic priorities.
Another $17 billion will go toward ports and waterways and $46 billion to help states prepare for natural disasters and other consequences of climate change.
The bill also provides $65 billion to build out broadband networks, particularly in rural areas.
The bill also includes billions to build electric vehicle charging stations.
The bill calls to repurpose $250 billion from existing pandemic relief legislation, $50 billion in savings from delaying a Medicare rebate rule passed under Trump, and to recoup $50 billion in fraudulent unemployment benefits.
It’s unclear if the bill actually has enough funding to cover its costs, but senators from both sides insisted that infrastructure improvements will pay for themselves in economic output.
Schumer vows to pass both bills:
Schumer after the vote vowed to advance the $3.5 billion budget bill.
“My goal remains to pass both a bipartisan infrastructure bill and a budget resolution during this work period — both,” Schumer said Wednesday. “We are going to get the job done, and we are on track.”
But Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema has already balked at the $3.5 billion price tag and West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin has expressed concerns about the climate funding and cost of the bill.
That has prompted sharp pushback from progressives, who threatened to tank the bipartisan bill Sinema and Manchin helped negotiate in the House.
“Good luck tanking your own party’s investment on childcare, climate action, and infrastructure while presuming you’ll survive a 3 vote House margin,” New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said in response to Sinema’s comment. “Especially after choosing to exclude members of color from negotiations and calling that a ‘bipartisan accomplishment.’”