The Senate passed a $550 billion infrastructure plan that would represent the biggest burst of spending on U.S. public works in decades, sending the legislation to the House where its fate is in the hands of the fractious Democratic caucus.
The bipartisan vote 69 - 30 Marked the achievement of President Joe Biden’s economic agenda in the U.S. Senate on Tuesday morning marked a significant victory for Biden's agenda. It was a breakthrough that has eluded Congress and Presidents for years, despite both parties calling infrastructure a priority and an issue ripe for compromise.
Biden: America, this is how we build back better, said Biden at the White House. 'This bill will put people to work improving our roads and our highways and our bridges.
Nineteen Republican, including Mitch McConnell, backed by Minority Leader, joined with all 50 Senators who caucus with Democrats to support the bill.
The bipartisan spirit quickly gave way, as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer immediately pivoted to a bipartisan budget resolution that will lead to a $3.5 trillion package of social spending and tax increases.
Senate passage of the infrastructure bill was forced by days of slow-moving Senate debate and months of negotiations during which Republicans opposed to the legislation forced Democrats to run out the clock on procedural motions.
'It's been a long and winding road but we have persisted and now we have arrived, Schumer said before the vote.
The bill still faces hurdles in the House, which is scheduled to be on hold until Sept. 20. Under pressure from progressives who want their priorities addressed, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said she will not allow a vote on the bipartisan package until the Senate has passed the broader economic plan. Nonetheless, moderates are clamoring for the House to take up the bill sooner than that.
Five leaders of the House Blue Dog Coalition, a group of fiscally conservative Democratic Democrats, issued a statement Tuesday calling for Pelosi to swiftly bring the infrastructure bill to a vote.
The Blue Dog co-chairs announced that they'remain opposed to any effort to unnecessarily delay consideration of these critical infrastructure investments, which will create good-paying jobs, keep American companies competitive and grow our nation's economy.
Their statement followed a similar letter to Pelosi from several other House moderates calling for a quick vote on the roads and bridges bill.
The Congressional Progressive Caucus released a statement saying that a majority of its 96 members won't vote for the infrastructure bill until the Senate passes the budget package.
What is the key to supporting Pelosi’s bill passed by Senate?
Still, the Senate vote after months of fraught negotiations was a crucial first step for both Biden's economic agenda and his broader hopes of showing the world how Washington can work again to solve big problems after a particularly divisive era in American politics.
If the infrastructure package clears both chambers, every state would feel the effects. It includes about $110 billion in new spending for roads and bridges, $73 billion for grid upgrades, $66 billion for rail and Amtrak and $65 billion for broadband expansion. It also provides $55 billion for cleaner water and $39 billion for transportation.
Biden had dispatched top aides to engage with a group of Republican and Democratic Senators putting the bill together and negotiated the bill directly with meetings and phone calls. The vote is also a significant achievement for Schumer and the bipartisan group of 22 senators led by Republican Rob Portman of Ohio and liberal Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, who became effective after initial negotiations between Republicans and White House collapsed in June.
Biden can claim a victory in that the package includes big spending on their priorities without raising taxes, while Republicans can lay claim to an accomplishment decades in the making without unpopular taxation or other levies that would have hit the middle class.
The Senate was unable to get unanimous approval to approve a bipartisan effort to replace a broad proposal for new cryptocurrency reporting requirements with a more narrowly targeted measure that would require certain digital currency exchanges to report data to the Internal Revenue Service. The cryptocurrency industry said the original version unfairly targeted them and was too broad in scope.
Other attempts by bipartisans to alter the bill, including an amendment that would allow state and local governments to use some of their unspent Covid relief funds for infrastructure projects, fell by the wayside.
The Congressional Budget Office said the proposed legislation would add $256 billion to the federal deficit over the next decade. The CBO predicts that the deficit would hit $3 trillion in 2022 alone before being narrowed to $1.15 trillion in 2022.
Republicans who viewed the plan as too expensive cited the CBO's prediction of additional debt and warned the bill would spur additional inflation.
Some senators who drew up the legislation contended the bill would be paid for by a variety of means that the CBO couldn't account for.
'The new spending under the bill is offset through a combination of new revenue and savings, some of which are reflected in the New CBO score and some of which is reflected in other savings and extra revenue identified in estimates as CBO is limited in what it can include in its formal score, Portman and Sinema said in a joint statement.
Mit the bipartisan deal out of the Senate, Schumer turned immediately to setting the stage for Biden's $3.5 trillion economic package - a partisan drive to overhaul policies on climate change, taxes, health care, immigration and other areas.
Schumer plans to force a vote on the fiscal blueprint that helps them trigger a Senate procedure that would short-circuit a GOP filibuster. Democrats in turn started to make the process painful by forcing numerous amendment votes via an exercise known as a vote-a-rama that could last all night.
But Biden and Schumer will need every democratic vote in the 50-50 Senate, including moderates like Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Sinema, who have insisted on and led the push for bipartisan deal but aren't sold on the price tag or all of Biden's proposed tax hikes.
Democrats have decided against teeing up a deficit increase with only Democratic votes as part of their budget blueprint. They could instead try to force Republicans to raise the limit by attaching it to a must-pass bill to keep the government open after Sept. 30.