Biden's bipartisan $1 trillion infrastructure bill nears 'finish line'
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Senate was poised to advance President Joe Biden’s $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill on Friday with his fellow Democrat, Senator Jon Tester, predicting: “We’re going to get this baby across the finish line.”
The result of months of talks between senators and the White House, the plan here would dramatically increase the nation’s spending on roads, bridges, transit and airports. It does not include funding for climate change and social initiatives that Democrats aim to pass in a separate $3.5 trillion measure without Republican support.
The Senate was due to vote at 11:30 a.m. EDT (1530 GMT) to open debate on the $1 trillion bill, which includes about $550 billion in new spending, beginning a process that could last for days and include amendments that change the bill or cloud its chances of passage.
The remaining $450 billion in infrastructure spending was previously approved.
Both Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, have been upbeat about the road ahead on the bill, which was brokered by Senate negotiators and White House officials and cleared an important procedural hurdle by a vote of 67-32 on Wednesday.
“When you have Chuck Schumer and you have Mitch McConnell voting for the same thing in a bill this large, you have a good thing,” Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, a key swing vote, said on Friday.
McConnell, one of 17 Republicans who voted to advance the measure on Wednesday, called it a “focused compromise” and an “important, basic duty of government.”
Lawmakers still have not seen the full text of the bill though Manchin told reporters that staffers had worked through the night and were expected to produce it soon. Senate leaders expect to work into the weekend on the measure.
Democrats hold razor-thin margins in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, meaning the party must stick together to achieve its legislative goals. Progressive members of the House Democratic caucus have already suggested the $1 trillion package is too little.
Biden on Thursday said the separate $3.5 trillion bill should include a pathway to citizenship for the “Dreamer” immigrants here who were brought to the United States as children. That requires the approval of the Senate parliamentarian, since Democrats are aiming to pass that larger bill with a simple majority through a process called budget reconciliation here that avoids the 100-seat Senate’s normal 60-vote threshold to pass most legislation.
Schumer said on Thursday his goal remains to pass both the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the Democratic climate and social spending bill before senators take their summer break, which was supposed to start in the second week of August.
Source: Read Full Article