Senate passes historic $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill
Washington DC - After months of negotiating, wrangling, and compromise, the Senate has finally passed a comprehensive infrastructure bill committing $1.2 trillion to roads, bridges, railways, and much more.
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act began life way back in March and went through multiple changes and many debates, as Democrats balanced both GOP opposition and skepticism from moderates in their own ranks.
The bipartisan efforts eventually led to today's vote and a 69-30 majority that brought 19 Republicans on board, as well as the crucial support of Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, of West Virginia and Arizona, respectively.
Even though the spending is less ambitious than initially intended by President Joe Biden, the program is still one of the biggest investment plans in US history, as $550 billion in new funding is set aside for the next five years to rebuild and modernize the nation's roads, transit systems, and water infrastructure. There's also money for expanding broadband internet access and charging ports for electric vehicles.
But even as the bill now heads back to the House for the final vote before it gets Biden's signature, the next political moves are already in the works.
According to CNN, Speaker Nancy Pelosi will delay looking at it until after the Democrats' complementary $3.5-trillion budget proposal, announced on Monday, is passed through reconciliation.
That will be a much tougher sell for Manchin and Sinema, who have already made noise protesting against such a large spending package.
The process is expected to take at least another month, leaving the bipartisan infrastructure bill in waiting for now.
Still, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer focused on positive vibes in a tweet, saying that the deal "will revitalize America's infrastructure & give people, businesses & our economy the tools to succeed in the 21st century."
Update, August 10, 4:20 PM EST: Biden and Harris herald the bipartisan passage
President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris delivered remarks on the bill's passage from the White House on Tuesday afternoon.
Biden thanked the bipartisan senators, specifically Republicans, for the courage to come together to deliver what he believes "will transform America" and "change millions of lives for the better."
"This bill shows that we can work together," he remarked.
"Today, we move one step closer to making a once in a generation investment in our nation's infrastructure," Harris said.
"Just so we are clear, we are not going to raise middle class taxes to pay for it because that's what the president promised and that is what we must deliver," she added.
Yet, members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus wrote a letter late Tuesday afternoon saying they will not support the new bill in the House until their priorities are met.
Biden, meanwhile, remained hopeful.
"Let's be clear. Work is far from done. The bill now has to go to the House of Representatives where I look forward to winning its approval," the president said.
Cover photo: IMAGO / UPI Photo