Washington – The Senate voted on Wednesday to push forward a bipartisan infrastructure bill after weeks of negotiations, removing a key procedural hurdle on a bill that includes $ 550 billion in new spending on infrastructure projects across the country.
The vote to move the legislation forward on Wednesday night was 67-32, with 17 Republicans joining the Democrats in voting for. Sixty votes were needed to move the bill forward. The text of the proposal had not yet been made public at the time of the vote.
As recently as this week, negotiations over the proposal appeared to be on the verge of collapse, but Senate Republicansearlier on Wednesday they had reached an agreement with Democrats in the White House and Senate on the “major issues” of the bill.
The proposal includes some of President Biden’s top national priorities and provides billions of dollars in funding for bridges, roads, high-speed internet, clean water, public transportation and more over the next five years. . It encompasses so-called “hard” infrastructure and is distinct from Democratic efforts to adopt a $ 3.5 trillion package for so-called “soft” infrastructure, which includes policies such as Medicare expansion and child care. universal.
According to a White House fact sheet, the legislation includes:
$ 40 billion for the repair, replacement and rehabilitation of bridges
Amtrak passenger rail investment of $ 66 billion
$ 39 billion to modernize public transit and improve access for seniors and people with disabilities
$ 55 billion for investments in drinking water
$ 65 billion broadband Internet deployment
$ 7.5 billion to build electric vehicle chargers nationwide
“This agreement signals to the world that our democracy can work, deliver and do great things,” the president said in a statement ahead of the vote. “As we did with the transcontinental railroad and the interstate highway, we will once again transform America and propel us into the future.”
The procedural vote came hours after five GOP senators negotiating the framework announced they had reached an agreement. Soon after, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he believed Democrats had the votes to move forward with the vote. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said late Wednesday he would vote yes on the bill’s review, while ensuring enough votes.
The bipartisan bill would be funded by unspent emergency relief funds, business user fees and a stronger tax enforcement for cryptocurrencies, among “other bipartisan measures,” the White House said . The bill would also use about $ 53 billion from states that would return unused enhanced federal unemployment money.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was cautiously optimistic about the prospects for the bipartisan bill on Wednesday morning, after a deal was announced but before details were released. At the time, she made no commitment to ensure that bipartisan legislation would get an as-is vote in the House and reiterated her position that the House would not pass the bipartisan bill until the Senate passed. would not adopt the $ 3.5 trillion reconciliation package.
“I can’t commit to relaying something that I don’t even know what it is yet. But I hope for the best,” Pelosi told reporters Wednesday morning.
After the bipartisan group of senators announced that it had resolved its main outstanding issues earlier today, Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema, chief Democratic negotiator for the bipartisan cadre, suggested in a statement that she was concerned about the cost of the $ 3.5 trillion budget. resolution. The 50 Democrats would be needed to pass a bigger package using reconciliation, which wouldn’t require any Republican votes.
“After reviewing the outline of the Senate Budget Committee, I told Senate leadership and President Biden that I supported many of the goals of this proposal to continue to create jobs, increase U.S. competitiveness and expand economic opportunities for the Arizonans, ”Sinema said in a statement. “I have also made it clear that while I will support the start of this process, I do not support a bill that costs $ 3.5 trillion – and in the months to come I will work in good faith to develop this legislation. with my colleagues and administration to strengthen Arizona’s economy and help everyday Arizona families move forward. “