The Senate passes a bipartisan $ 1 trillion infrastructure bill and sends an important part of Biden's economic agenda to the House of Representatives
The Senate passed a bipartisan $ 1 trillion infrastructure plan on Tuesday, a big step for Democrats trying to get President Joe Biden's comprehensive economic agenda through Congress.
The bill, which provides $ 550 billion in new funding for transport, broadband and utilities, was passed by 69-30 votes when 19 Republicans joined all 50 Democrats. The House then moved to a budget resolution in a 50-49 party election that would allow the Democrats to pass what they saw as a $ 3.5 trillion supplementary spending plan with no Republican votes.
"Today the Senate is taking a decade-long overdue move to revitalize America's infrastructure and give our workers, our businesses, our economy the tools to thrive in the 21st century," said Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. said Tuesday before the polls.
House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi, D-California, has stressed that she will not take up the infrastructure bill or the Democrats' separate proposal to expand the social safety net until the Senate passes both of them. The House was supposed to be on hiatus through September 20, but on Tuesday evening House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said the House would return on August 23 to consider the budget decision.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is leaving the Senate Chamber after the final passage of the US Capitol's $ 1.2 trillion infrastructure bill on August 10, 2021 in Washington, DC.
Win McNamee | Getty Images
It could take months for Congress to pass both measures. Biden pushed for their approval on Tuesday, phrasing the infrastructure bill as an investment that "will get people to work".
"This bill will help turn a historic recovery into a long-term boom," he said, admitting that "the Democrats' work is far from over."
Approval of the bill limits a month-long slogan for the White House and both parties in Congress to forge a plan to renew American roads, railways, public transportation, water systems, power grids and broadband. For years, Congress has not been able to agree on a comprehensive infrastructure plan that supporters of both parties say will boost the economy and create jobs.
"The non-partisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will modernize and improve our roads, bridges, ports and other critical infrastructure facilities," said the 10 senators who drafted the bill under the leadership of Ohio Republican Rob Portman and Arizona Democrat Kyrsten Sinema a statement Tuesday.
"In doing so, this pioneering law will create jobs, increase productivity, and pave the way for decades of economic growth and prosperity – all without raising taxes for ordinary Americans or raising inflation," they continued.
GOP Senators who backed the bill include those most likely to vote with the Democrats – Sens. Susan Collins from Maine, Mitt Romney from Utah, and Lisa Murkowski from Alaska – and Conservatives from Red States like Sens. Kevin Cramer and John Hoeven from North Dakota and Jim Risch from Idaho. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Supported the bill.
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The Democrats' drive to get their economic agenda off the ground may still fail. The infrastructure bill alone seems to have enough Democratic and Republican support to pull through the house.
But to win over centrists suspicious of a $ 3.5 trillion bill as well as progressives who want extra spending on childcare, paid vacation, and climate policy, Pelosi said they can't go without the one law the other will say goodbye. To get their plan approved through a republican-free budget balance, Democrats cannot lose a single member of their 50-member Senate committee or more than a handful of representatives.
The Senate will next vote on a budget resolution in the coming days to initiate the reconciliation process. The chamber began on Tuesday afternoon with a so-called Vote-a-rama – in which the Senate is considering an indefinite number of non-binding amendments to the resolution. The final vote on the adoption of the budget decision will then take place.
The chamber plans to take its own break after the budget measure is adopted and is expected to return in mid-September.
Schumer has given the committees a target for September 15 to finalize their pieces of final legislation. The bill would then have to go through both houses of Congress.
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris presides over the U.S. Senate, announcing a total of 69 yes and 30 no votes as the Senate passes a bipartisan infrastructure bill worth $ 1 trillion, as seen in a frame grave from a video, which was recorded in the U.S. Senate Chamber on Capitol Hill Washington, United States, August 10, 2021.
US Senate TV | Reuters
Centrists such as Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. and Sinema have signaled that they will vote in favor of the budget decision but will seek to cut the $ 3.5 trillion proposal. Republicans have started pounding Democrats for the proposed spending and individual tax hikes they hope to make up for.
McConnell called it a "reckless tax and shopping spree" on Tuesday.
Biden believes Congress can pass "a significant part, if not all" of the $ 3.5 trillion in spending called for in budget resolution, he said Tuesday.
In addition to the GOP's opposition to the reconciliation plan, Democrats must also address concerns within their own party in order to get both cornerstones of their agenda off the ground. The co-chairs of the bipartisan House Problem Solvers Caucus, Democratic MP Josh Gottheimer from New Jersey and GOP MP Brian Fitzpatrick from Pennsylvania, called on Tuesday for an independent House vote on the infrastructure bill.
Biden and the Democrats want a signature policy they can promote on the way to the mid-term campaign next year as they try to hold both houses of Congress. Their plan includes extending household tax credits and health grants granted during the coronavirus pandemic, lowering the Medicare eligibility age and expanding benefits, and using tax credits, discounts and polluter fees to encourage green energy adoption.
The bipartisan bill is the first step. Among other things, $ 110 billion in roads, bridges, and other major projects, $ 66 billion in passenger and freight, $ 65 billion in broadband, $ 55 billion in water systems, and $ 39 billion in invested in local public transport.
The Biden government has pushed for a quick pass.
"My department is ready as soon as this law becomes law to begin delivering these resources and distributing them to the communities," Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told CNBC's The News With Shepard Smith on Monday.
Funding for the bipartisan bill will come from, among other things, reused coronavirus aid money, unused federal unemployment insurance aid and frequency auctions. Republicans opposed Biden's proposal to raise the corporate tax rate to offset costs.
While Senators have said the bill will be paid, the bipartisan Congressional Budget Bureau estimated Thursday that it would add $ 256 billion to the budget deficit over a decade. The report did not include the potential increase in sales from economic growth.
Despite Republicans including McConnell backing the infrastructure bill, the Senate minority leader has led his faction by claiming the reconciliation plan will increase inflation. National Economic Council director Brian Deese denied the argument during a CNBC interview Tuesday, saying the spending on the Democratic bill would be offset.
"This is a recipe for stimulating the economy and actually easing price pressures in the long term," he said.
For many progressives, the bipartisan infrastructure plan did not go far enough to combat climate change or boost budgets. Part of the party's liberal wing in the House of Representatives – where the bill will go next – has criticized the size of the bipartisan bill and called for a robust reconciliation package.
Before the Senate vote, Schumer wanted to reassure progressives in Congress that the second plan would meet their demands.
"To my colleagues who are concerned that this is not enough for the climate, for families and for corporations and the rich to pay their fair share: We are taking a second path that will bring about a generation change in these areas," said he.
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