$1 Trillion Infrastructure Deal Scales Senate Hurdle With Bipartisan Vote

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$1 Trillion Infrastructure Deal Scales Senate Hurdle With Bipartisan Vote

WASHINGTON – The Senate voted on Wednesday for a $ 1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill that would make large investments in the country’s public construction system as Republicans partnered with Democrats to pave the way for action on a crucial part of the agenda Pave President Biden.

The 67-32 votes, including 17 Republicans, came just hours after centrist senators from both parties and the White House reached a long-awaited compromise on the bill that will provide approximately $ 550 billion in new federal roads for roads would, bridges, rail, transit, water and other physical infrastructure programs.

Among those who advocated the progress was Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader and a long-time spin-off of important legislation promoted by Democratic presidents. Mr McConnell’s support signaled that his party was – at least for now – open to working with the Democrats to implement the plan.

The deal still faces several roadblocks to becoming law, including converting it into formal law and passing the final vote in the narrowly divided Senate and House of Representatives. But the vote was a victory for a president who has long promised to break the partisan deadlock in Congress and achieve great things backed by members of both political parties.

If passed, the measure would be the largest injection of federal funds into the public building system in more than a decade.

The compromise, which was written on Wednesday, provides for $ 110 billion for roads, bridges and major projects; $ 66 billion for passenger and freight transport; $ 39 billion for public transportation; $ 65 billion for broadband; $ 17 billion for ports and waterways; and $ 46 billion to help states and cities prepare for droughts, forest fires, floods and other effects of climate change, according to a White House official who did so on condition of anonymity.

In a long statement, Mr. Biden welcomed the deal as “the most significant long-term investment in our infrastructure and competitiveness in almost a century”.

He also formulated it as confirmation of his belief in non-partisanship.

“Neither side got everything they wanted on this deal,” said Mr Biden. “But that is exactly what compromise and consensus building mean – the heart of democracy. With the deal going to the entire Senate, there is still a lot of work to do to get this home. There will be disagreements that need to be resolved and further compromises made along the way. “

That became clear on Wednesday when the president and senators of both parties cheered their approval. In the negotiations, Mr Biden and Democratic leaders were forced to agree to concessions accepting less new federal funds for public transportation and clean energy projects than they wanted, including for some electric vehicle charging points, and their urge for additional funding for tax enforcement with the IRS ( A senior Democratic adviser noted that the Democrats have ensured an expansion of the existing transit and motorway programs compared to 2015, the last time such a law was passed.)

The changes – and the omission of some of their highest priorities – angered progressives in both chambers, with some threatening to oppose the bill if it were not changed.

“From what we’ve heard, since we haven’t seen any text, this bill will be the status quo of 1950s politics with a little addition,” said Oregon Rep. Peter A. DeFazio, a Democrat and chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

“If that’s what I think,” he added, “I’ll be against it.”

Still, the bipartisan compromise was a crucial part of Mr Biden’s $ 4 trillion economic agenda, which the Democrats want to combine with a $ 3.5 trillion budget plan that would include additional spending on climate, health care and education to get through mobilize Congress against Republican objections.

The vote on the continuation of the infrastructure bill came after weeks of bargaining by a bipartisan group of senators and White House officials to translate into law a bill they agreed on late last month. Just last week, the Republicans in the Senate had unanimously blocked the examination of the plan because there were too many unresolved disputes. But on Wednesday, after several days of frantic conversation and nightly phone calls and text messages between senators and White House officials, negotiators announced that they were ready to proceed.

“We look forward to moving forward and having the opportunity here in the chamber to have a healthy debate on an incredibly important project for the American people,” said Senator Rob Portman, Ohio Republican and chief negotiator.

Many of the bill’s spending provisions remain unchanged from the original agreement. However, it appeared that spending has been cut in a number of areas, including reducing public transport funding from $ 49 billion to $ 39 billion and getting rid of a $ 20 billion infrastructure bank that is catalyzing private investment in large projects should. The negotiators could not agree on the structure of the bank and the terms of its funding agency, so they removed it entirely.

Updated

Aug. 2, 2021, 6:42 am ET

The infrastructure bank’s loss appeared to cut funding in half for electric vehicle charging points that administrative officials said were included in the original agreement, jeopardizing Mr Biden’s promise to create a network of 500,000 charging points nationwide.

The new agreement also included significant changes to infrastructure spending after Republicans refused to support one pillar of the original framework: increased revenue from an IRS crackdown on tax fraud that should have provided nearly one-fifth of the funding for the plan .

In lieu of that lost revenue, negotiators agreed to repurpose more than $ 250 billion from previous pandemic relief laws, including $ 50 billion from expanded unemployment benefits that were cut earlier this summer by two dozen Republican governors, according to one from The New. verified data sheet York Times. That’s more than double the money reused in the original deal.

The new deal would save $ 50 billion by postponing a Medicare rebate rule passed under President Donald J. Trump and raise nearly $ 30 billion through the application of tax information to cryptocurrencies. She also suggests getting back $ 50 billion in fraudulently paid unemployment benefits during the pandemic.

Fiscal Hawks were quick to dismiss some of these funding mechanisms as overly optimistic or accounting gimmicks, warning that the deal would add to the federal budget deficit over time. But business groups and some Washington moderates were quick to praise the deal.

Jack Howard, senior vice president of government affairs at the US Chamber of Commerce, who has worked for months to broker a bipartisan agreement that does not include a corporate tax increase, said the spending in the deal would “bring tremendous benefits to Americans.” People and Economy ”.

“Our nation has been waiting for infrastructure modernization for over a decade,” he said, “and this is a critical step in that process.”

During lunch on Wednesday, the Republicans leading the deal handed out binders summarizing what could be a 1,000-page bill. The group of 10 main negotiators finally held a celebratory press conference to thank their colleagues from both parties for their support.

“It’s not perfect, but I think it’s in a good place,” said Senator Thom Tillis, a Republican from North Carolina who voted to pass the bill.

After the vote, New York Democrat Senator Chuck Schumer and majority leader expressed optimism that the Senate could pass not only the bipartisan infrastructure package but also the $ 3.5 trillion budget plan needed to achieve that A far larger package of reconciliation will unleash the remainder of Mr Biden’s agenda.

“My goal remains to pass both a bipartisan infrastructure law and a budget resolution during this work phase – both,” said Schumer, warning of “long nights” and weekend meetings. “We will do the job and we are on the right track.”

Democrats have yet to maneuver the bill through the evenly divided Senate and retain the support of all 50 Democrats and Independents and at least 10 Republicans. That could take at least a week, especially if the Republicans who oppose it choose to slow the process down. Should the move be approved by the Senate, it would also have to pass through the House of Representatives, where some Liberal Democrats were reluctant to deal with the emerging details.

But the Republicans who negotiated the deal urged their colleagues to support a move they said would provide much-needed funding for infrastructure projects across the country.

“I’m amazed that there are some who oppose it just because they think that if you ever do something, it is a sign of weakness,” said Senator Bill Cassidy, Republican from Louisiana.

California spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi has said repeatedly that she will not pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill in the House of Representatives until the much more ambitious budget reconciliation bill of $ 3.5 trillion is passed by the Senate.

Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema, the leading Democratic negotiator of the infrastructure deal and an important moderate voice, issued a statement Wednesday saying she did not support such a costly plan despite not trying to block it. These comments prompted several Liberals in the House of Representatives to threaten to reject the bipartisan deal they had negotiated, underscoring the fragility of the compromise.

“Good luck fueling your own party’s investments in childcare, climate protection and infrastructure while assuming you survive a 3-vote lead in the house,” New York MP Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wrote in a tweet . “Especially after the decision was made to exclude colored members from negotiations and described this as a ‘non-partisan achievement’.”

Coverage was contributed by Nicholas Fandos, Coral Davenport, Catie Edmondson and Lisa Friedman.