Biden's $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure deal advances in the Senate in major test vote
- Biden's bipartisan infrastructure deal advanced in a major test vote on Wednesday.
- Seventeen Republicans joined all 50 Senate Democrats in voting for it.
- A final vote for the bipartisan plan will likely happen sometime in the next week or two.
President Joe Biden's $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure agreement advanced in the Senate in a major test vote late on Wednesday afternoon with backing from both Senate Democrats and Republicans.
The procedural vote was 67-32, allowing it to move ahead in the Senate. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was among the 17 Republicans that voted to approve the plan, along with all 50 Senate Democrats. One Republican senator, Mike Rounds of South Dakota, was absent.
"My goal remains to pass both the bipartisan infrastructure bill and a budget resolution this work period. Both," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on the Senate floor once the vote concluded. "It might take some long nights, it might eat into our weekends, but we are going to get the job done. And we are on track."
At a press conference, the bipartisan group of 10 GOP and Democratic negotiators lauded the progress made towards securing passage of a final bill. "We still have a long way to go before we get to the finish line, but this was a vitally important first step," Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine said.
The procedural vote came hours after the Senate gang announced they had struck a deal with the White House on infrastructure. The protracted negotiations sometimes appeared on edge of falling apart, but they produced a new agreement with $550 billion in fresh spending.
The bulk of the spending would go to roads and bridges, along with rail, broadband, and clean water. The plan would be largely paid for with repurposed relief funds from the $1.9 trillion stimulus law passed in March. It would also come from unrealized taxes on cryptocurrencies, along with new economic growth, per the White House.
The vote sets the stage for a final vote sometime in the next week or two, a top priority for Biden and Schumer this summer. Democrats are also moving a reconciliation package in tandem that would clear the Senate without GOP votes. That pathway allows Democrats to secure passage of certain bills with only a majority vote.
But the Democratic-only spending bill's planned $3.5 trillion price tag was thrown into doubt on Wednesday after Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona came out against it, making cuts to the package likely.
The reconciliation bill may also dampen support among Senate Republicans who are reluctant to pave the way for a major anti-poverty package through the upper chamber. But Republicans in the bipartisan gang remained optimistic their support would ultimately grow once they fully drafted the infrastructure bill.
"I think Republicans are seeing that they're totally separate," Sen. Rob Portman, the chief Republican negotiator, told reporters on Wednesday evening.
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