Senate clears major procedural motion on infrastructure bill

The Senate on Sunday night voted to move forward with a procedural motion on the $1 trillion infrastructure bill, a key part of President Biden‘s domestic agenda. The Senate voted 68 to 29 to end debate on the final infrastructure product, and the final vote could happen as late as Tuesday morning unless the opponents yield back some of their time. 

But one of the Republicans in the group who had negotiated the bill voted no on one of the roll call votes taken Sunday, and he said he intended to vote against the final bill.

Senator Todd Young of Indiana, a former National Republican Senate Committee chair, issued a statement Sunday night saying that he is “not yet comfortable with the current pay-fors in this legislation nor am I comfortable with Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi’s continued insistence on tying passage of this bill to the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion reckless tax-and-spend budget proposal.”

The final vote in the Senate on the bill will likely happen Tuesday, and then it will move onto the House. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said that chamber will not vote on it until the Senate approves a budget reconciliation bill addressing what the White House describes as human infrastructure.

The Senate reconvened at noon on Sunday, picking up where they left off on Saturday night. Both parties haggled Sunday on the bill’s cryptocurrency regulations and whether to allow coronavirus aid money to be spent on infrastructure.

“Democrats are ready and willing to vote on additional amendments to the bill before moving to final passage,” Schumer said when the Senate came into session. “Once again that will require the cooperation of our Republican colleagues. I hope they will cooperate so we can move more quickly. otherwise we’ll proceed by the book and finish the bill. I said yesterday we could do this the easy way or the hard way. Yesterday it appeared that some Republicans would like the Senate to do this the hard way. In any case, we’ll keep proceeding until we get this bill done.”

Senate Prepares To Vote On Major Infrastructure Bill
A girl walks her dog past the U.S. Capitol Building as the sun begins to set behind them on August 8, 2021, in Washington, D.C. Samuel Corum / Getty Images

Given the bipartisan agreement on the bill — and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell joining 17 other Republicans to vote Saturday to advance the bill — Democrats had hoped to vote on final passage this weekend. But Republican Senator Bill Hagerty of Tennessee refused to agree to speed up the voting, despite that passage is widely expected. 

On Saturday, Hagerty denied he was holding up the bill. Democratic Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, standing nearby, said “yes he is.”

“There’s absolutely no reason for rushing this process and attempting to eliminate scrutiny of the bill other than the Democrats’ self-imposed driven timeline,” Hagerty said Saturday. He said he was objecting to the bill’s cost and it will be paid for. 

Hagerty’s argument got a boost last week when the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that the bill would add $256 billion to the federal deficit over the next decade.

The legislation includes $550 billion in new spending for the nation’s physical infrastructure. The agency said that from 2021 to 2031, the legislation would decrease direct spending by $110 billion, boost revenues by $50 billion and increase discretionary spending by $415 billion.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the first of Mr. Biden’s infrastructure bills, primarily addresses surface transportation and “traditional” infrastructure priorities, as well as some climate-related provisions on electric vehicles. After the final vote, 50 hours of budget debate and an unlimited vote-a-rama, what the amendment process is known as, will immediately follow.

Alan He, John Nolen and Melissa Quinn contirbuted to this report.