The Senate voted to advance an infrastructure bill on Friday, the Associated Press reported, marking a victory for President Joe Biden after months of struggling to pass his agenda.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) says he is confident the legislation will pass the upper chamber within days after some further debate.
Senate Republicans cave
The dam broke Wednesday when several Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), voted to move forward on the bill.
The bill is certainly stripped down from Biden’s original demand of more than $2 trillion, but at $550 billion, it’s still very large. The bill leaves out many of the things Biden calls “human infrastructure,” such as pay raises for home health aides and renewable energy tax credits, as The New York Times notes.
But there’s still some woke stuff in there, like $1 billion to “reconnect communities” by tearing down and replacing “racist” highways. Another $15 billion will reportedly go to electric school buses and electric car charging stations. And $73 billion is for “the single largest investment in clean energy transmission in American history,” a White House fact sheet claims.
On the more traditional side, there’s $110 billion for roads and bridges, $39 billion for public transit, and $66 billion for rail, the AP reports. The bill’s Republican and Democratic negotiators have hailed it as an elusive example of cooperation in a deeply polarized country.
“At a time when Washington seems broken, this group of members…came together, along with others, and decided we are going to do something great for our country,” GOP negotiator Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) said, according to Politico.
Trump slams “RINOs”
But former President Donald Trump has blasted Republicans for giving Biden a win, saying they’re setting up the largest government expansion in a generation, as the Washington Examiner notes.
It still has to pass the House, however, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has said that she is tying this bill’s fate to a mammoth $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill that Democrats plan to pass without any Republican votes.
“Nancy Pelosi has said NO INFRASTRUCTURE until they get everything else,” Trump said Friday, according to the Examiner. “Infrastructure is just a ‘carrot’ for a massive socialist expansion. Why are RINOs so desperate to push bad, Radical Leftist policies? And at the same time give a big win to the Democrats.”
The $3.5 trillion “budget” bill is closer to the “human infrastructure” vision of Biden’s party, which Republicans have criticized as partisan social engineering that has little to do with what traditional “infrastructure” typically means.
But Republicans such as Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) say they are satisfied that the “bipartisan” bill comes close to “hard infrastructure” and that it will not require new taxes. The bill is to be funded with unused COVID-19 relief funds and anticipated economic growth, the AP reports.