It's no longer a framework: Senators on Sunday evening revealed and introduced legislative text for a bipartisan infrastructure deal crafted after months of negotiations among a bipartisan group of lawmakers.
"This legislation represents the most significant investment in our infrastructure since the construction of the Interstate Highway System," Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins said on the Senate floor on Sunday.
Finalized during a rare weekend session, the legislation, which is called the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, clocks in at 2,702 pages. The $1.2 trillion bill includes approximately $550 billion in new spending over five years. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he hopes to have a vote on final passage "in a matter of days."
"I know it has been difficult, and I know it has been long," Arizona Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema said on the Senate floor Sunday evening. "And what I am proud to say is that is what our forefathers intended when they created a system of government that required Republicans and Democrats to come together in a coequal branch of government and work with each other and with the administration to find legislation and solutions that meet the needs of our country's individuals and families, companies, communities."
The bill includes funding for physical infrastructure projects, including roads, bridges, and waterways, as well as $65 billion to expand broadband access and funding for electric vehicle charging stations.
The bill is expected to pass with bipartisan support as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, has signaled support for the bill, and more than a dozen Republican senators supported procedural votes last week to begin debate on the legislation.
West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin hopes the deal passes in the Senate by Thursday, he told CNN on Sunday.
The House left for August recess on Friday and is not scheduled to return to floor activity until Sept. 20, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer have said that lawmakers are subject to being called back early, possibly to consider the infrastructure deal if necessary. Staff-level discussions are set to continue.
If and when the infrastructure proposal passes the Senate, it faces more hurdles in the House.
Oregon Democratic Rep. Peter DeFazio, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said last week that the Senate version of the bill does not include enough on transit spending and measures to reduce fossil fuel use.
Pelosi has said she will not start consideration of the $1.2 trillion bill until Senate Democrats also pass a separate $3.5 trillion framework targeting social programs and "human infrastructure" through the reconciliation process, which bypasses the need for Republican support in the closely divided Senate.
The future of the parallel bill is unclear after Sinema, whose vote in the evenly divided Senate is likely needed for passage, said last week that the $3.5 trillion price tag is too high.
Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman took a swipe at the reconciliation proposal in a floor speech on Sunday, saying that the bipartisan bill is "not going to increase inflation like some of the other spending bills being talked about."
Utah Sen. Mitt Romney defended working toward a bipartisan proposal, saying that "members of both parties have been mischaracterizing our efforts as somehow linked to paving the way to the Democrats' $3.5 trillion wish list."
"If you don't think our Democrat friends are going to push for that monstrosity, with or without this bill, then I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you," Romney said. "They're going to push for that anyway. This is a separate piece of legislation. I love this one. I hate that one. These are two very different things, and there's going to be an effort, obviously, to stop that bill from going forward."
Schumer said Sunday that he is committed to the two-track goal of also passing a reconciliation bill this month.
More left-leaning Democratic House lawmakers have threatened to block the bipartisan proposal from passage without a reconciliation bill.
"We can't just have one body driving the entire legislative agenda for the country," New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told CNN on Sunday. "If there is not a reconciliation bill in the House, and if the Senate does not pass the reconciliation bill, we will uphold our end of the bargain and not pass the bipartisan bill until we get all of these investments in."
Ocasio-Cortez said that the number of Democrats in the House Progressive Caucus who will not vote for the bipartisan bill without the reconciliation deal is in the double digits, "more than enough" to prevent it from passing.
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Original Author: Emily Brooks