Late at night, early in the morning waiting for the Senate on infrastructure – Twin Cities
By LISA MASCARO
WASHINGTON (AP) –
Senators were back to work on Sunday and working on the eventual passage of a bipartisan $ 1,000 billion infrastructure package, with Democratic leaders vowing to stay as long as it takes to defeat Republican refractories who want to dragging out final votes on one of President Joe Biden’s top priorities.
Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., stressed to his colleagues that they could do it “either way or the hard way,” while a few GOP senators appeared determined to run out of time for days to come. days.
âWe will continue until we have completed this bill,â Schumer said.
The measure would provide what Biden called a “historic investment” in public works programs – roads, bridges, high-speed Internet access, clean water and more. In a rare coup of bipartisanship, the Republicans joined the Democrats on Saturday to advance the measure. If approved, the bill will go to the House.
“We’re about to see this go through the Senate,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said, citing “a remarkable coalition” that includes businesses, workers and lawmakers from both sides. “I think we’re on the verge of getting there.”
Despite this overwhelming support, momentum stopped when a handful of Republican senators refused to cede the hours of debate required before the next procedural votes. This opposition was delaying what supporters hoped would be a quick pass and made late-night and early-morning sessions a day-long chore. The final passage would be postponed to Tuesday.
Senator Bill Cassidy, R-La., A negotiator on the bill, said about 17 to 18 Republicans have indicated they support the bill, which would ensure its eventual passage. âIt could go faster, but it’s okay,â Cassidy said, adding, âAnd that’s the right thing, it’s okay.â
Senators were meeting for the second weekend in a row to work on the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the first of Biden’s two infrastructure packages. Once the vote is over, senators will immediately turn to the budget outline for a $ 3.5 trillion package of child care, senior care and other programs that is a much bigger undertaking. partisan and which should only attract the support of Democrats.
Senator Bill Hagerty, R-Tenn., Donald Trump’s ally and the former president’s former ambassador to Japan, was among those leading the effort to take as much time as needed to debate and amend the bipartisan bill .
“There is absolutely no reason to rush,” Hagerty said during a speech on the ground on Saturday.
Trump issued a statement criticizing Biden, senators from both parties and the bill itself, although it is not clear whether the former president’s views prevailed over lawmakers.
Biden, who was spending the weekend in Delaware, said the bipartisan package offers an investment comparable to building the transcontinental railroad or the interstate highway system.
Overcoming the 60-vote hurdle was a sign that the tenuous alliance between Republicans and Democrats could hold on to the public works package. In total, 18 Republicans joined Democrats on the 67-27 vote to push the measure past obstruction.
Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has so far allowed the bill to move forward, despite broadside and name-calling from the former president. His vote on Saturday – another âyesâ – was closely watched. âIt’s a compromise,â McConnell said.
Senators have spent the past week dealing with nearly two dozen amendments to the 2,700-page package, but so far none have significantly altered its framework.
Other amendments could be debated on Sunday with senators considering revisions to a section on cryptocurrency, a long-term effort by defense hawks to add $ 50 billion to defense-related infrastructure and a bipartisan amendment. to reallocate some of the untapped COVID-19 relief aid that had been sent to states.
Another key procedural vote was scheduled for Sunday evening.
Senators have found much to like about the bill, although it does not fully satisfy the Liberals, who consider it too small, or the Conservatives, who find it too large. It would provide federal money for projects that many states and cities could not afford on their own.
An analysis of the Congressional Budget Office bill has raised concerns, particularly from Republicans. He concluded that the legislation would increase deficits by about $ 256 billion over the next decade.
But supporters of the bill argued that the budget office was unable to take into account certain sources of revenue, including those from future economic growth. Additional analysis released by the budget office on Saturday suggested that overall infrastructure spending could increase productivity and lower ultimate costs.
The package payment has been a pressure point throughout months of negotiations after Democrats opposed an increase in the gasoline tax paid at the pump and Republicans resisted a plan to strengthen the IRS to prosecute tax evaders.
Unlike Biden’s larger $ 3.5 trillion package, which would be paid for by higher tax rates for businesses and the wealthy, the bipartisan package is funded by reallocating other funds, including COVID aid. -19 untapped, and other cuts in spending and revenue streams.
The House is on vacation and is expected to review the two Biden infrastructure packages when he returns in September.
Cassidy spoke on CNN’s “State of the Union” and Buttigieg was on “Fox News Sunday”.
Associated Press writer Alan Fram contributed to this report.