Senate passes bipartisan infrastructure bill ahead of a budget battle

Senate passes bipartisan infrastructure bill ahead of a budget battle

After months of negotiations and days of debate, the Senate passed a $1.2 trillion infrastructure package and sent the bill to the House of Representatives, where Democrats say they will consider it in September alongside a much larger bill that would pay for a wide range of social programs. 

The vote was 69-30.

The Senate will begin immediately considering the $3.5 trillion budget resolution after the infrastructure bill is passed. No Republican would be expected to support the larger spending framework, which would fund universal preschool, free community college, expanded Medicare, amnesty for millions of undocumented immigrants, and more. Democrats have described the more significant spending decision as a "human infrastructure" measure and plan to use a unique budget base that would allow them to pass it without GOP support.

The traditional infrastructure bill won the support of more than a dozen GOP lawmakers, many of them negotiators who worked with Democrats and the White House to finalize the deal. The measure provides $550 billion in new spending, about half of which is offset by fees and other revenue, while the other half will add to the country's debt.

The bill funds projects that address the country's roads, bridges, waterways, and broadband expansion. It will also provide funding for mass transit, rail, and electric vehicle charging stations.

Senators from both parties celebrated the measure as a bipartisan victory that would provide much-needed funding for long-neglected infrastructure.

"This is a historic investment in our nation's infrastructure that will serve it for decades to come," said Senator Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio.

President Joe Biden was touting the infrastructure bill as a historic bipartisan deal that would support economic growth, create jobs, and repair roads, bridges, and other infrastructure while tackling climate change.

"The deal will boost the economy with a focus on equities, global competitiveness, and well-paying jobs," White House officials wrote on Twitter ahead of the vote.

Most Republicans voted against the measure, citing its effect on the deficit and provisions in the bill dedicated to climate change and mass transit.

Republicans who supported the legislation said it would provide needed infrastructure funding for their states, where water pipes need to be replaced, and roads and bridges are old.

Representative Shelley Moore Capito, a West Virginia Republican and chief negotiator, was touting the money that would be used to help her state not only repair roads and bridges but also expand broadband to rural communities.

"The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act prioritizes states like West Virginia and will help us bridge the digital divide," Capito said on Tuesday. "This is a great victory for our country."

The bipartisan partnership on the Senate floor will be fleeting.

Capito will join other Republicans in opposing the $3.5 trillion package, which Democrats have tied to a bipartisan bill to persuade members of their party to support the massive measure.

Republicans are preparing for a fight and planning to introduce "hundreds" of amendments to change the procedure during this week's debate.

"We're talking about a massive expansion of government, literally giving people everything for free," said Webb John Thune, a Republican from South Dakota.

Republicans say the measure will push the nation toward socialism with higher taxes, job-killing, stifling the economy, and piling up debt.

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