The Senate passed a roughly $1 trillion infrastructure bill on a 69-30 vote on Tuesday, teeing up a vote in the House that would deliver President Biden his first major bipartisan victory.
Although 19 Republicans including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) joined Senate Democrats in advancing the bill, the bill could face a more complicated path in the House where Democratic leaders have tied the legislation’s fate to Senate passage of a broad $3.5 trillion social spending package this fall. That could put the House vote on the infrastructure bill on hold for weeks.
A bipartisan group of 10 senators negotiated the infrastructure deal with the White House, settling on a package that includes $550 billion in new federal spending, including $65 billion to expand high-speed Internet access; $110 billion for roads, bridges and other projects; $25 billion for airports; and $66 billion for rail transportation, which the White House said will be “the largest federal investment in passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak” in 1971. The bill would also renew and revamp existing infrastructure and transportation programs set to expire at the end of September.
The new spending is mostly paid for by repurposing unspent COVID-19 relief funds and tightening enforcement on reporting gains from cryptocurrency investments. However, the Congressional Budget Office still projects the bill would add about $256 billion to the debt.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle touted the vote as historic, particularly in a time of deep political division.
“I was proud to support today’s historic bipartisan infrastructure deal and prove that both sides of the political aisle can still come together around common-sense solutions,” McConnell said. “By promoting sensible, collaborative legislation, we have shown that the Senate still works as an institution.”
“This is what it looks like when elected leaders take a step toward healing our country’s divisions rather than feeding those very divisions,” said Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), one of the key negotiators.