Senate prepares to move forward with bipartisan infrastructure bill

Washington — The Senate on Monday began its push to pass the roughly $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill hours after legislative language was completed and unveiled, with senators involved in crafting the proposal hoping it will clear the upper chamber in the coming days.

Capping a rare weekend session, the bipartisan group of Senate negotiators announced Sunday night that they had finished writing the 2,702-page bill, which will provide $550 billion in new funding to improve the nation’s roads, bridges, railways and public transit systems. 

The Senate is now poised to begin debating amendments to the proposal once Republicans give the green-light on the process. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Monday three bipartisan amendments are ready for consideration.

“Let’s start voting on amendments,” Schumer said in remarks on the Senate floor. “The longer it takes to finish the bill, the longer we’ll be here.”

It’s unclear how many amendments the Senate will consider, though the Democratic leader said the initial three “constitute only the first tranche of potential amendments,” with more expected.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said the legislative text released Sunday provides “a good and important jumping off point for what needs to be a robust and bipartisan process out here on the floor.”

“Our full consideration of this bill must not be choked off by any artificial timetable,” McConnell said on the Senate floor.

After the bipartisan group of Senate negotiators and the White House reached a deal last Wednesday on the details of the infrastructure plan, senators worked through the weekend to finish crafting the legislative language. 

President Biden has touted the measure as providing the most significant investment in the nation’s physical infrastructure in decades, and its approval by Congress will be a major legislative victory for the president, as the proposal is a key piece of his economic agenda.

The nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation released its analysis of the bill Monday and found its revenue provisions will raise $51 billion over 10 years.

Mr. Biden first announced in June he came to an agreement with the bipartisan group of senators on an infrastructure framework, and White House aides spent the last few weeks huddled with Senate negotiators hammering out the details of the plan. Mr. Biden, too, met with key senators involved in the talks and worked the phones, efforts that culminated in the completion of the bill text Sunday.

Schumer has vowed that the Senate would remain in Washington until it passes the bipartisan infrastructure bill and a budget blueprint, which will allow Democrats to begin crafting a more sweeping $3.5 trillion proposal that includes Mr. Biden’s plans for child care, health care, education, the environment and, potentially, immigration.

The latter measure will be passed using a process known as budget reconciliation, which allows it to clear the Senate without Republican support.

While Schumer has vowed to send both bills to the House in the coming days, the bipartisan plan could face headwinds in the lower chamber, where progressive lawmakers have raised concerns with some of its provisions.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, meanwhile, has pledged she will not bring the bipartisan infrastructure bill to the floor for a vote until the Senate clears the $3.5 trillion proposal, meaning it could be months before either measure lands on Mr. Biden’s desk for his signature.