The U.S. Senate advanced a $1.2 trillion infrastructure package in a procedural vote Saturday, an indication the measure will eventually be approved in a final vote.
A late-night session Thursday had ended with no compromises on the measure.
“We can get this done the easy way or the hard way. In either case, the Senate will stay in session until we finish our work," Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a floor speech before Saturday's vote. “It's up to my Republican colleagues how long it takes.”
In a 67-27 vote showing solid bipartisan backing, senators invoked cloture, or limited debate on the legislation; such a move requires 60 votes from the 100-member Senate, meaning at least 10 Republicans were needed to join the 50 Democratic senators to cut off debate.
Roads, bridges, waterways
The bill, one of President Joe Biden's top legislative priorities, would provide for the largest investment in decades in U.S. physical infrastructure, including roads, bridges, airports and waterways.
It would also advance broadband internet service throughout the country, expand rail and transit services, and replace lead-piped drinking water systems.
The cloture vote allowed for a final vote later Saturday or Sunday.
Before the vote, Biden tweeted:
We can’t just build back to the way things were before COVID-19, we have to build back better. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal and my Build Back Better plan will grow our economy, and create an average of 2 million good-paying jobs every year over the next decade.— President Biden (@POTUS) August 7, 2021
Schumer, however, admonished Republicans for their actions Thursday.
"We have been trying to vote on amendments all day but have encountered numerous objections from the other side," he said, referring to Republicans.
Mitch McConnell, the Senate's top-ranking Republican, indicated his support for the bill. "Republicans and Democrats have radically different visions these days, but both those visions include physical infrastructure that works for all of our citizens," he said in a speech before the vote. "The investments this bill will make are not just necessary, in many cases, they are overdue. Our country has real needs in this area."
Among the amendments discussed were a provision to tax cryptocurrency and a demand for billions of dollars in Defense Department improvements, according to a Reuters report.
The infrastructure bill will be submitted to a final vote by simple majority in the Senate, likely Saturday or Sunday.
If the Senate approves the measure, the House of Representatives would then consider it. Passage appears less certain in the House, where some progressive Democratic lawmakers are complaining that the spending package is too small.
Biden has been vocal in his support for the infrastructure bill, aiming not only to describe the improvements that would be made across the U.S. but also to convince voters that major legislation can still be approved in politically fractious Washington.
The measure includes $550 million in new spending and $450 billion in previously approved funds. There's $110 billion for roads and bridges, $39 billion for public transit, $66 billion for rail, and $55 billion for drinking water and wastewater infrastructure, as well as billions for airports, ports, broadband internet and electric vehicle charging stations.
Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.Original Article