The Senate advanced a nearly $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package in a Wednesday evening procedural vote, a significant development for legislation brokered by both parties and the White House as they seek to clinch a rare bipartisan victory on Capitol Hill.
In a 67-32 vote on the motion to proceed, all 50 Democrats were joined by 17 Republicans, clearing the 60-vote threshold to move to debate and avoid the threat of a filibuster. Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell supported the motion to proceed after his party initially blocked it last week when the bill was unfinished.
After the package failed in last week’s vote, senators and White House staffers scrambled to piece together the final details of the bill and iron out the remaining disagreements on spending and funding mechanisms. They worked through the weekend and after a few days of slower progress, Republicans announced the deal and their readiness to vote again – even though the group still hasn’t produced the bill’s final text.
This time, Democrats were able to cobble together the votes needed on a top priority for President Joe Biden and his economic agenda but also one coveted by many Republicans. Final passage is still far from assured in the Senate and the House – something Biden himself appeared to acknowledge.
“Of course, neither side got everything they wanted in this deal. But that’s what it means to compromise and forge consensus – the heart of democracy,” Biden said in a statement before the vote. “As the deal goes to the entire Senate, there is still plenty of work ahead to bring this home. There will be disagreements to resolve and more compromise to forge along the way.
The bipartisan package includes $550 billion in new spending to invest in roads, bridges, public transit, broadband, airports, water infrastructure and passenger and freight rail. The legislation also addresses electric vehicle infrastructure, like $7.5 billion for charging stations throughout the country and $5 billion for zero-emission and low-emission electric buses.
According to the White House, the package is funded by unspent federal COVID-19 relief funds, corporate user fees, tax enforcement related to cryptocurrencies, as well as the “revenue generated from higher economic growth as a result of the investments.”
After declining to comment on the bill publicly, McConnell announced before the vote that he’d support the motion to proceed. Since the Senate is voting on a legislative vehicle of a related bill, McConnell said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York promised that the text of the bipartisan package – once finalized – will be substituted.