Tuesday, January 25

US Senate Votes To Advance Infrastructure Deal After Bipartisan Advancement | United States Senate


The US Senate voted Wednesday to begin work on a $ 1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure deal after negotiators reached an agreement on the main components of the package that is a key priority for Joe Biden.

The agreement follows months of talks between Democratic and Republican senators.

Biden has hailed the agreement as “historic” and promised to work with members on both sides to ensure passage of the bill “because while there are a lot of things that we disagree on, I think we should be able to work together on the few things. “. we agree. I think it’s important.”

Wednesday night’s vote was a key procedural victory that paves the way to begin work on the bill, which proposes $ 550 billion in new spending on everything from roads and bridges to broadband and green energy.

The rare bipartisan display in the 67-32 vote, supported by 17 Republicans, signaled interest among senators, but it’s unclear whether enough Republicans will eventually join Democrats in supporting the final passage. Wednesday night’s procedural step is expected to lead to lengthy consideration.

The bipartisan bill is a key component of Biden’s broader domestic policy agenda. Democrats plan to address the rest with a comprehensive $ 3.5 trillion reconciliation package that Republicans have pledged to oppose.

However, there were still signs of potential trouble for the bipartisan infrastructure bill Wednesday afternoon, after Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema said she does not support the price of the separate reconciliation bill, which would fund many of Biden’s “human infrastructure” initiatives championed by progressives in his party.

“Good luck with your own party’s investment in childcare, climate action, and infrastructure, assuming you will survive a three-vote margin in the House, especially after choosing to exclude members of color from the negotiations. and calling it a “bipartisan achievement,” said progressive congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York tweeted.

“Without a reconciliation package that meets this moment, I am a no on this bipartisan deal,” Mondaire Jones tweeted, the progressive congressman representing parts of the Bronx.

Some Senate progressives have indicated that they will vote in favor of the bipartisan bill only if their moderate colleagues help them pass the reconciliation package.

Democrats also have an extremely narrow margin in the House, which could create obstacles to passing the bipartisan infrastructure bill if progressives oppose it.

The $ 550 billion proposed in the infrastructure bill is less than the $ 579 billion in a framework negotiators outlined several weeks ago. The package includes $ 110 billion for roads and bridges, $ 73 billion to modernize the country’s electrical grid and expand the use of renewable energy, and $ 65 billion to expand broadband access, a particular problem for rural areas. and tribal communities, and $ 47 billion for environmental resilience. .

Addressing a funding concern among Republican lawmakers, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Portman said the package is “more than paid for” adding, “We look forward to moving forward and having a healthy debate.”

Eliminate previous plans to spend $ 20 billion to create an infrastructure financing authority, sources on both sides said. It was intended to attract investment through public-private partnerships, but Republicans opposed Democratic demands designed to raise workers’ wages by attaching requirements that contractors pay prevailing wages, usually higher levels guaranteed by the unions.

Four other Republican negotiators joined Portman, including Senator Lisa Murkowski, who said the agreement showed that Republicans and Democrats in the divided US Congress “can come together on really difficult issues to negotiate in good faith to negotiate a settlement.”

Before the announcement, Murkowski told reporters: “I think there are a lot of people on both sides of the aisle who want to get into an infrastructure package.”

Reuters contributed to this report


www.theguardian.com

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