The Senate voted Wednesday to begin debate on a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package just hours after negotiators from both parties announced they had reached agreement on the key points of the bill.
Lawmakers voted 67-32 to end the filibuster on a motion to proceed to the measure, with 17 Republicans joining all 50 Democrats to vote to begin debate.
Wednesday’s vote is likely to begin several days of attempts by senators from both parties to amend the bill before expected votes to end debate — which requires 60 ‘yes’ votes — and final passage early next week.
The announcement that an agreement had been reached earlier Wednesday was panned by former President Donald Trump, who called the package a “terrible deal.”
“Hard to believe our Senate Republicans are dealing with the Radical Left Democrats in making a so-called bipartisan bill on ‘infrastructure,’ with our negotiators headed up by SUPER RINO Mitt Romney,” raged the 45th president in an emailed statement.
“This will be a victory for the Biden Administration and Democrats, and will be heavily used in the 2022 election. It is a loser for the USA, a terrible deal, and makes the Republicans look weak, foolish, and dumb. It shouldn’t be done.”
The Biden administration trumpeted the bill, which includes $550 billion in new spending on public works projects, as “the largest federal investment in public transit ever” and “the largest federal investment in passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak.”
Key provisions of the measure include $110 billion for roads and bridges, $66 billion for passenger and freight rail, $65 billion for broadband internet, more than $50 billion for water infrastructure, $25 billion for airports, and $7.5 billion for electric vehicle charging stations. It also provides $73 billion for “clean energy transmission … including by building thousands of miles of new, resilient transmission lines to facilitate the expansion of renewable energy,” and $21 billion toward environmental remediation, which the White House called “the largest investment in addressing the legacy pollution that harms the public health of communities and neighborhoods in American history.”
Republican negotiators have touted the bill to their colleagues by noting that it would be paid for in part by tapping $205 billion in unspent COVID-19 relief aid and $53 billion in unemployment insurance aid that more than two dozen Republican-run states have declined. It also relies on economic growth to bring in $56 billion.
However, Trump said the package “sets an easy glidepath for Dems to then get beyond what anyone thought was possible in future legislation. It will be a continued destruction of our Country.
“Our Borders are horrible, crime is at an all time high, taxes and inflation are going way up, the economy is going way down, and now this,” he concluded. “Don’t do it Republicans—Patriots will never forget! If this deal happens, lots of primaries will be coming your way!”
Trump has repeatedly implored Republicans to walk away from negotiations, saying Monday that they should “wait until after we get proper election results in 2022 or otherwise, and regain a strong negotiating stance.”
Wednesday’s vote is likely to begin several days of attempts to amend the bill by senators from both parties. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has signaled that he is willing to delay the start of the August recess, due to begin Aug. 9, to complete work on both the infrastructure bill and a larger budget resolution.
“My goal remains to pass both the bipartisan infrastructure bill and a budget resolution during this work period. Both,” Schumer said after Wednesday’s vote. “It might take some long nights. It might eat into our weekends. But we are going to get the job done, and we are on track.”
However, Democrats will likely need to pare back the size of the budget resolution after Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) announced earlier Wednesday that she would not support it at a price tag of $3.5 trillion. With the Senate split 50-50, Democrats must keep Sinema and her fellow moderate, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, on their side if they want to pass the resolution without Republican support through the parliamentary tactic of reconciliation.
A further complication arises in the form of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) who has said she will not consider the bipartisan bill until the larger reconciliation package is passed.
With Post wires