President-elect Joe Biden

Joe Biden infrastructure bill

2021/08/11 09:39 家族 健康

President Joe Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure deal cleared its final serious Senate hurdle Sunday night, putting the legislation on a glide path to passage as soon as late Monday.

In a 68-29 vote, the Senate closed down debate on a bill negotiated by a bipartisan group of 10 senators that spends $550 billion in new money on the nation’s physical infrastructure. Sunday’s vote came after senators spent the weekend haggling over amendments and time agreements to consider them.

Final passage of the legislation is expected late Monday night, or the wee hours of Tuesday at the latest, unless a deal is reached among all 100 senators to speed it up. A 50-hour budget debate and an unlimited "vote-a-rama" on nonbinding but politically symbolic topics will follow immediately after.

Joe Biden infrastructure bill on cruise control to Senate passage

"We will move forward to wrap this up as expeditiously as possible, and then move on to the budget resolution," said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer after the vote. "The two-track process is moving along. It's been a process that has been a very good process. It's taken a while, but it's going to be worth it."

A total of 18 Senate Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, joined all 50 Senate Democrats to advance the physical infrastructure bill. Sens. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) supported ending debate, after previously voting against moving forward.

Meanwhile, Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.), who is up for reelection in 2022, announced he would oppose the bill, citing concerns about the national debt. Young was part of a larger group of 20 senators that supported the bipartisan infrastructure talks.

Prior to the vote Sunday evening, senators spent the weekend trying to negotiate amendments changing the infrastructure bill’s cryptocurrency regulations and allowing coronavirus aid money to be spent on infrastructure. But they did not reach an agreement.

Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.) said Saturday that he would not allow the infrastructure bill to pass more quickly, dampening the Democratic majority’s enthusiasm for allowing the GOP to have more amendment votes. The Senate has considered more than 20 amendments to the bill thus far, but attempts to vote on two dozen more fell apart on Thursday night after Hagerty refused to expedite the bill as a condition of the deal.

Hagerty on Sunday afternoon attempted to bring up 17 amendments by unanimous consent, but Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) objected, citing his refusal to come to a time agreement and potential objections from other senators.

Other GOP senators also tried unsuccessfully on Sunday to bring up their own amendments.

“We have wasted all day Thursday, Saturday and now through Sunday,” said an exasperated Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). “That’s enough time to vote on a multitude of amendments, and we just sat around those three days, accomplishing nothing.”

Grassley voted against ending debate Sunday, citing his complaints about the amendment process. However, he told reporters after that he'd still support final passage. The infrastructure bill could theoretically be amended after Sunday’s vote. But that would require cooperation from all 100 senators, making the prospects unlikely

Among the amendments senators were calling for prior to Sunday’s vote was one from Sens. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) that would loosen restrictions on coronavirus aid money so that states and cities can spend it on infrastructure. And Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) was also pushing for a $50 billion defense infrastructure fund.

While Senate passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill is imminent, the legislation still faces an uncertain future in the House. Democratic moderates are already pressuring Speaker Nancy Pelosi to take the legislation up immediately, though Pelosi and many progressives want to wait until a Democratic-only social spending bill also passes the Senate. That bill cannot be filibustered by Senate Republicans in the evenly split chamber.

Pelosi and Schumer have devised a two-track process to enact as much of Biden's domestic agenda as possible, pledging that the bipartisan infrastructure bill will only advance if it is married to the party-line legislation that will spend as much as $3.5 trillion on climate change action, paid leave policies and health care expansion.

The Senate will immediately proceed to a budget setting up that massive bill on filibuster-proof ground after it completes its work on the bipartisan infrastructure bill. Schumer is also considering forcing votes on more elections legislation after Democrats' sweeping overhaul plan failed in June.

Senators push infrastructure bill a step closer to passage

Senators hoisted the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package over another hurdle late Sunday, a coalition of Democrats and Republicans pushing it closer to passage despite a few holdouts trying to derail one of President Joe Biden’s top priorities.

The rare bipartisan momentum was holding steady, a reflection of the bill’s popularity and the eagerness of senators to show voters back home they can deliver. One of the biggest investments of its kind in years, the package promises to unleash billions of dollars to upgrade roads, bridges, broadband internet, water pipes and other public works systems undergirding the nation.

Senators easily overcame another 60-vote hurdle on a vote of 68-29. Final votes could drag into early Tuesday as a single GOP senator, Tennessee’s Bill Hagerty, refused to relent on the mandatory debate time.

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., stressed to colleagues that they could proceed the “easy way or the hard way,” as the Senate slogged through its second consecutive weekend session.

“We’ll keep proceeding until we get this bill done,” Schumer said.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act would provide what Biden has called a “historic investment” in public works programs, the first part of the president’s his rebuilding agenda. As many as 20 Republicans are expected to join Democrats in the evenly split Senate for what would be a robust final tally. If approved, it would go to the House.

“We’re on the cusp of seeing that move through the Senate,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said on “Fox News Sunday,” citing “a remarkable coalition” that includes business, labor and lawmakers from both parties. “I think we’re about to get this done.”

Once voting wraps up, senators immediately will turn to the budget outline for a $3.5 trillion package of child care, elder care and other programs that is a much more partisan undertaking and expected to draw only Democratic support.

Despite the momentum, action ground to a halt over the weekend when Hagerty, an ally of Donald Trump, forced the Senate to run out the clock on debate time, refusing to consent to speeding up the process.

Hagerty, who had been Trump’s ambassador to Japan, was leading the effort to take as much time as needed to debate and amend the bipartisan bill, in part because he wants to slow the march toward Biden’s next big bill, which plans $3.5 trillion for child care, an expansion of Medicare for seniors and other so-called soft infrastructure needs.

Trump called Hagerty on Sunday morning, said a person familiar with the call who requested anonymity to discuss it. Hagerty said later Sunday in a speech on the Senate floor that he was trying to prevent a “socialist debt bomb” of new government spending.

The former president has been publicly critical of the bipartisan bill and criticizing Biden and the senators from both parties who support it, though it’s unclear whether Trump’s broadsides will have much sway with Republican senators. He celebrated Hagerty’s stand in a statement Sunday.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has so far allowed the bill to progress, despite the name-calling and criticism coming his way from Trump. “This is a compromise,” McConnell said.

As the weekend standoff dragged on, Republicans who helped negotiate the compromise spoke up Sunday commending the former president for having sparked infrastructure talks when he was in the White House even if those bills never panned out.

Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, the lead Republican negotiator, said it’s time overdue to improve the nation’s public works systems.

“The American people deserve to have good roads and bridges and infrastructure to drive on, travel on,” he said.

Another negotiator, Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, acknowledged that no compromise is perfect, but doing nothing when there was a bill before them was not an option.

“Every president in the modern era has proposed an infrastructure package,” he said. “This was an effort to say let’s break the logjam.”

Biden, who was spending the weekend in Delaware, said the bipartisan package offers an investment on par with the building of the transcontinental railroad or interstate highway system.

Senators have spent the past week processing nearly two dozen amendments to the 2,700-page package, but so far none has substantially changed its framework.

More amendments have been offered as senators seek to revise a section on cryptocurrency, a long-shot effort by defense hawks to add $50 billion for defense-related infrastructure and a bipartisan amendment to repurpose a portion of the untapped COVID-19 relief aid that had been sent to the states. But it’s unclear if they will be considered for votes.

Senators have found much to like in the bill, even though it does not fully satisfy liberals, who view it as too small, or conservatives, who find it too large. It would provide federal money for projects many states and cities could not afford on their own.

An analysis of the bill from the Congressional Budget Office drew concerns, particularly from Republicans. It concluded that the legislation would increase deficits by about $256 billion over the next decade.

But the bill’s backers argued that the budget office was unable to take into account certain revenue streams — including from future economic growth. Additional analysis released Saturday by the budget office suggested infrastructure spending overall could boost productivity and lower the ultimate costs.

Paying for the package has been a pressure point throughout the months of negotiations after Democrats objected to an increase in the gas tax paid at the pump and Republicans resisted a plan to bolster the IRS to go after tax scofflaws.

Unlike Biden’s bigger $3.5 trillion package, which would be paid for by higher tax rates for corporations and the wealthy, the bipartisan package is funded by repurposing other money, including untapped COVID-19 aid, and other spending cuts and revenue streams.

The House is in recess and is expected to consider both Biden infrastructure packages when it returns in September.

Biden's infra Bill hits Senate speed bump, debate slows to crawl

Amendments still on the table include proposals for new cryptocurre... and flexibility for states and localities that choose to use some unspent pandemic relief funds for roads and bridges

A slow-going Senate debate over a broad $550 billion infrastructure package spilled into Sunday and could go on for days yet, with lawmakers unable to agree on which final changes to consider.

Amendments still on the table include proposals for new cryptocurrency rules and flexibility for states and localities that choose to use some unspent pandemic relief funds for roads and bridges.

Senator Bill Cassidy, a Louisiana Republican who helped negotiate the bipartisan proposal, said he expects the package of money for roads, water systems and broadband expansion will eventually pass, but suggested that may be two days away unless all 100 senators can agree to speed things up.

“Probably it’s going to pass,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. “We’ll have a vote tonight at 7:30 and then another vote -- if you just look at the clock playing out -- sometime on Tuesday. So, it could go quicker, but it’s going.”

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer opened the Sunday session saying Democrats were ready to consider amendments to the legislation, which is a cornerstone of President Joe Biden’s agenda.

“That will require the cooperation of our Republican colleagues,” he said. “In any case, we’ll keep proceeding until we get this bill done.”

At least one GOP senator, Bill Hagerty of Tennessee, has refused to allow the unanimous agreement needed to speed past hours and hours of remaining debate. He is among a cluster of Republicans who oppose the bill because it will be followed by a Democratic effort to push through without Senate GOP backing a more expansive $3.5 trillion measure entailing the rest of Biden’s economic agenda.

“I’m not inclined to expedite this process whatsoever,” Hagerty said on Saturday.

On Sunday, he proposed bringing up a package of amendments for votes, but without a time agreement to bring the bill to a close quickly.

Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, the top Democrat negotiator on the bipartisan package, objected, drawing a rebuke from Hagerty.

“Democrats’ true intention is to rush this bill through so that they can hurry up and light the fuse on their $3.5 trillion spending spree, a socialist debt bomb, then leave town for vacation,” he said.

The Senate did edge the infrastructure legislation past one of its final procedural hurdles on a 67-27 vote on Saturday, an indicator of the bill’s bipartisan support. But agreement on a last batch of amendments was elusive.

Senators in both parties were still working to resolve a dispute over two dueling amendments to modify a provision dealing with reporting requirements for cryptocurrency transactions and tax collection. The bipartisan group that drew up the legislation was counting on the extra tax revenue generated to help pay for some of the bill’s costs.

Senate Finance Chairman Ron Wyden, a progressive Democrat, teamed up with conservative Republicans Pat Toomey and Cynthia Lummis in working with the cryptocurrency industry to draft changes to narrow those affected by the reporting requirements. It would exclude entities such as miners, software designers and protocol developers from the groups that need to report data to the Internal Revenue Service.

But Senator Rob Portman, a Republican, and Democrats Sinema and Mark Warner -- three key players in negotiating the infrastructure legislation -- proposed an 11th-hour alternative endorsed by the White House. It would target some software companies and cryptocurrency miners.

Toomey said Saturday that the talks weren’t immediately fruitful.

“I don’t know how it’s going to work out. We’re working on it,” the Pennsylvania Republican said.

Meanwhile, Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn is pressing for the Senate to vote on his amendment that would allow state and local governments to use as much as 30% of their unspent Covid relief funds on infrastructure projects. Cornyn said his proposal, sponsored with Democratic Senator Alex Padilla, could free up between $80 billion and $100 billion for projects.

He pleaded with other senators on Saturday to allow consent needed to vote on the proposal considered “non-germane” under Senate rules.

“This money is readily available and does not add to the deficit or debt, but merely provides them with flexibility,” Cornyn said.

Crawling Pace

Hagerty’s objection to speeding up debate underscored how a single senator can use the chamber’s arcane rules to force the Senate to move at a crawl. He may have another chance to do so beginning Sunday night.

The Senate still has one more procedural vote to wrap up debate and move toward final passage -- but that comes only after another 30 hours of debate, unless he along with everyone else agrees to drop that time.

Lack of agreement to move things ahead risks pushing final passage into early Tuesday. After that, Senate Democrats will begin a days-long debate over the fiscal blueprint underpinning the $3.5 trillion economic plan before lawmakers leave for an August recess.

The infrastructure bill includes $110 billion in new spending for roads and bridges, $73 billion for electric grid upgrades, $66 billion for rail and Amtrak, and $65 billion for broadband expansion. It also provides $55 billion for clean drinking water and $39 billion for transit.

“The state of play looks good” and the package is “on the cusp” of moving through the Senate, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said on “Fox News Sunday.” The infrastructure spending will generate “enormous economic growth,” he said.

The legislation still faces challenges in the House, where Democrats can afford only three defectors if Republicans vote in unison against the bill. Speaker Nancy Pelosi reaffirmed Friday that the House won’t take up the infrastructure legislation until the Senate also passes the more sweeping economic package, a linkage demanded by progressives in the chamber. That is a central demand of progressive Democrats in the House, but some moderates are urging Pelosi to not delay the infrastructure bill.