US Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) (L) and Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) (R) answer questions from members of the press during a press conference following a procedural vote for the bipartisan infrastructure framework at the Dirksen Senate Office Building July 28 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
Alex Wong | Getty Images
The US Senate worked in a rare Saturday session on a bill that would spend $1 trillion on roads, railroads and other infrastructure, as lawmakers from both sides sought to advance President Joe Biden’s top legislative priority.
The ambitious plan has the support of both Democrats and Republicans and has already cleared two hurdles by wide margins in the deeply divided Senate.
But so far, no lawmakers have seen the final text of the bill, which includes about $550 billion in new spending and was written on Saturday. Previous votes were for a shell bill to which the actual legislation will be added once it is completed.
“Once the bipartisan group completes the bill, I will offer it as a replacement amendment,” Senate Supreme Democrat Chuck Schumer said on Saturday.
The Senate will continue on both tracks of infrastructure before the start of the August recess. The longer it takes us to finish, the longer we’ll be here. But we’re going to get the job done.”
After passing the $1 trillion bill, Schumer is aiming for a sweeping $3.5 trillion package that focuses on climate change and home care for the elderly and children. That faces stiff Republican opposition and some disagreement among moderate Democrats.
The Senate voted 66-28 on Friday to pass the bill, with 16 Republicans joining all 48 Democrats and two independents in support.
The package would dramatically increase the country’s spending on roads, bridges, transit and airports. Supporters predicted that it will eventually pass the Senate and House of Representatives, eventually reaching Biden’s desk where he can sign it into law.
It includes about $550 billion in new spending, on top of the $450 billion previously approved. It also includes money to remove lead water pipes and build charging stations for electric vehicles.
The bill does not include funding for most of the climate change and social initiatives that Democrats want to adopt in the separate $3.5 trillion measure without Republican backing.
Democrats have razor-thin margins in both the Senate and House of Representatives, meaning the party must stick together to achieve its legislative goals.
Progressive members of the House Democratic caucus have already suggested the $1 trillion package is inadequate, and the Senate could also impose changes that hamper its chances of becoming law.
But supporters, including Schumer and Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell, were optimistic about the outlook.