The US Senate has approved a major infrastructure spending bill designed to invest $1 trillion in roads, bridges, public transportation and improve internet access over the next five years.
After years of partisan stalemate in Washington, D.C., Republicans joined Democrats in supporting the legislation, delivering a legislative victory for President Joe Biden who urged members of both major parties in Congress to work together.
“The American people will now see the most powerful infrastructure injection in decades,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said.
“You’ll find better roads, bridges, airports and broadband in the UAE than in the USA,” said Schumer, the top Democrat in the Senate.
“The bill will make big and important differences in both productivity and job creation in America for decades to come,” Schumer said.
Public opinion polls indicated that the campaign to modernize America’s infrastructure, the product of months of negotiations between the White House and a bipartisan group of senators, was widely popular.
The historic 69-30 vote in the Senate kicked off a two-track legislative process that Democrats expect will allow them to enact key Democrats’ priorities in a sweeping $3.5 trillion budget bill that tackles climate change and boosts social spending.
Republicans, who supported infrastructure investments, dismissed the Democrats’ budget plan – the second part of the two-track process – as a “socialist” waste of money and promised to oppose it. Democrats plan to use special budgeting procedures to pass the bill to the Republican opposition.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the US House of Representatives is ready to take up the $1 trillion infrastructure bill and $3.5 trillion budget in September.
The budget outline was officially revealed on Monday, the same day the UN Climate Panel warned that global warming had reached emergency levels, or what UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called “the red code for humanity.”
After working for two consecutive weeks on the infrastructure bill, a round-the-clock “rama vote” session could be in store for the Senate starting Tuesday afternoon as debate on the larger budget plan begins.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who voted for the infrastructure bill, has signaled that Republicans will oppose the $3.5 trillion budget measure, which he described as a “radical” spending package that would create a permanent welfare state, and said it would introduce the largest tax increase in time. Peace in United States History.
“Every senator will score again and again,” McConnell added. “We will debate, we will vote, we will stand, we will be counted, and the people of this country will know exactly which senators they fought for.”
To move in the evenly divided Senate without Republican support, Democrats aim to use a “reconciliation” measure that would allow them to press ahead with this week’s budget plan and implement legislation later this year on simple majority votes.
Biden, a Democrat, praised the Senate’s approval of the trillion-dollar infrastructure bill and praised US senators for working across party lines on a “transformative” measure for the benefit of the country.
“This bill shows that we can work together,” Biden said. “I know compromise is difficult on both sides. But it is important. It is important, it is necessary that democracy be able to function.”
The pending budget plan, split by Republicans and Democrats, will provide Senate committees with spending levels for a range of federal initiatives, including helping seniors get access to home health care and more families affording early childhood education.
It will provide a tuition-free community college and boost investments in programs to dramatically reduce carbon emissions blamed for climate change.
Later, Senate committees will have to fill in the details for several federal programs.
When Congress returns in September, it must also address increased US government power to issue bonds to pay for US programs.
Democrats are expected to push for new national elections and voting standards that would reverse recent moves by Republican-led state legislatures to restrict access to the ballot following the defeat of former President Donald Trump in the 2020 election.