Senate opens debate on trillion-dollar infrastructure bill after bipartisan group strikes deal

Senate opens debate on trillion-dollar infrastructure bill after bipartisan group strikes deal
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The Senate voted on Wednesday to proceed to a roughly $1 trillion infrastructure bill after weeks of negotiating, advancing a critical part of President Joe Biden’s agenda in Congress. The vote was 67-32.

Over half of the bill — $550 billion — is new federal funding. It invests $73 billion to rebuild the electric grid, $66 billion in passenger and freight rail, $65 billion to expand broadband Internet access, $55 billion for water infrastructure, $40 billion to fix bridges, $39 billion to modernize public transit like buses and $7.5 billion to create the first federal network of charging stations for electric vehicles.

The White House claimed that the bill’s investments in various areas of US infrastructure were either the largest ever or in several decades.

“We are proud to announce we have reached a bipartisan agreement on our proposal to make the strongest investment in America’s critical infrastructure in a generation,” said 21 senators from both parties in a statement. “Our plan will create good-paying jobs in communities across our country without raising taxes.”

“Reaching this agreement was no easy task — but our constituents expect us to put in the hard work and show that two parties can still work together to address the needs of the American people,” they added.

The statement was signed by Republican Sens. Richard Burr of North Carolina, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Susan Collins of Maine, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Rob Portman of Ohio, Mitt Romney of Utah and Mike Rounds of South Dakota. Members of the Democratic caucus included Sens. Jacky Rosen of Nevada, Chris Coons of Delaware, Dick Durbin of Illinois, Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, John Hickenlooper of Colorado, Mark Kelly of Arizona, Angus King of Maine, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, Jon Tester of Montana and Mark Warner of Virginia.

While the bipartisan group had a breakthrough, some progressives on the left criticized it after Sinema announced she would not support the Democrats’ separate much larger, $3.5 trillion bill at that massive top-line figure. The other bill is another crucial part of Biden’s legislative agenda; it would fund climate initiatives, universal prekindergarten and community colleges, expand paid family and medical leave and the child tax credit, and add dental, vision and hearing benefits to Medicare, among many other proposals.

New York Rep. Mondaire Jones said he would oppose the bipartisan deal, and New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also criticized Sinema’s position.

“Good luck tanking your own party’s investment on childcare, climate action, and infrastructure while presuming you’ll survive a 3 vote House margin – especially after choosing to exclude members of color from negotiations and calling that a ‘bipartisan accomplishment,'” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted.

Senators are racing to make progress on the plans ahead of a pre-scheduled August recess, though Democratic leaders have said they could cancel or delay the start of recess depending on the negotiations.

This story and headline have been updated with additional developments Wednesday.

The-CNN-Wire
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