Bipartisan group's $1.2T infrastructure bill clears crucial Senate procedural vote

Pelosi pledges to hold up infrastructure bill until Senate passes reconciliation

Former White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney discusses the infrastructure standoff on ‘Kudlow’

The Senate voted Wednesday evening to move forward with a $1.2 trillion package to rebuild the nation's crumbling infrastructure after months of painstaking negotiations between a bipartisan group of senators and the White House on one of President Biden's top economic goals. 

The measure, which passed 67-32, includes about $550 billion in new funding for roads, bridges, rail, transit, water and other "traditional" infrastructure programs.  

The White House said in a fact sheet the legislation will be paid for by repurposing unspent coronavirus relief funds, along with recouping fraudulently paid unemployment money, unemployment money returned by states that prematurely ended a federal $300-a-week benefit, targeted corporate users fees, strengthened tax enforcement for cryptocurrencies and economic growth created by the investments. 

WHAT'S INCLUDED IN THE BIPARTISAN INFRASTRUCTURE BILL?

The agreement is pared down slightly from the $579 billion in new funding that the bipartisan group – which included 10 Republicans and 10 Democrats – and the White House initially announced at the end of June. The funding measures are also markedly different, after GOP lawmakers rejected a push to increase revenue for the IRS in order to crack down on tax cheats. 

The newest agreement comes after divisions between the two sides over how much to allocate for things like public transit and broadband, as well as how to pay for the measure, threatened to derail negotiations.

It includes $110 billion for roads, $73 billion for power infrastructure, $66 billion for passenger and freight rail, $65 billion to expand broadband access, $55 billion for clean drinking water, $39 billion for public transit, $25 billion for airports, $21 billion for environmental remediation, $17 billion for ports, $11 billion for transportation safety, $7.5 billion for electric vehicle infrastructure, $5 billion for zero or low-emission busses and $1 billion to demolish or reconstruct infrastructure that divided communities.

SURGING INFLATION COULD DERAIL ECONOMIC RECOVERY FROM PANDEMIC, IMF WARNS

Schumer has made it clear that he wants to pass the bipartisan package, as well as the blueprint for a $3.5 trillion budget plan that Democrats will pass using budget reconciliation, before the Senate leaves for its August recess, which is still scheduled to begin in two weeks. 

The New York Democrat held a procedural vote last week to begin debate on the unfinished infrastructure proposal, but all 50 Republicans voted against it, saying they needed to see the finalized legislation first. But after meeting with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday, GOP lawmakers suggested they would the proposal advance the second time around. 

For months, President Biden has pushed for a bipartisan compromise on infrastructure but has insisted he wants to follow it with a sweeping, multitrillion-dollar package that would make up the basis of his "Build Back Better" economic agenda. 

The larger package would invest billions in an array of planned health, education, environment and social programs as Democrats seek to use their power monopoly in Washington to squeeze through a slate of left-wing priorities. 

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Republicans have criticized the more expensive plan amid a recent burst of inflation, but Speaker Nancy Pelosi has maintained that the House will not vote on the bipartisan deal until the Senate also approves the $3.5 trillion measure.

"We are here to get the job done. We cannot respond to some of the legislation until the Senate acts," Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters last week during her weekly press conference. "We will not take up the infrastructure bill until the Senate passes the reconciliation measure." 

By tethering the bipartisan bill to the reconciliation package, Pelosi is trying to ensure that progressive members of her caucus rally around both measures. Because Democrats have an unusually narrow advantage in the House (Pelosi has just three votes to spare), it's possible that left-leaning lawmakers could tank the bipartisan deal.

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