It’s in – and big: Senators produce $1T infrastructure bill

Jul 31, 2021, 9:14 AM | Updated: Aug 1, 2021, 9:36 pm
Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, center, speaks with Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., left, while Sen. John Kenn...

Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, center, speaks with Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., left, while Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., walks by at right, as the Senate votes to formally begin debate on a roughly $1 trillion infrastructure plan, a process that could take several days, at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, July 30, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON (AP) — After much delay, senators unveiled a nearly $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package Sunday night, wrapping up days of painstaking work on the inches-thick bill and launching what is certain to be a lengthy debate over President Joe Biden’s big priority.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act clocked in at some 2,700 pages, and senators could begin amending it soon. Despite the hurry-up-and-wait during a rare weekend session, emotions bubbled over once the bill was produced. The final product was not intended to stray from the broad outline senators had negotiated for weeks with the White House.

“We haven’t done a large, bipartisan bill of this nature in a long time,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. He said a final vote could be held “in a matter of days.”

A key part of Biden’s agenda, the bipartisan bill is the first phase of the president’s infrastructure plan. It calls for $550 billion in new spending over five years above projected federal levels, what could be one of the more substantial expenditures on the nation’s roads, bridges, waterworks, broadband and the electric grid in years.

Senators and staff labored behind the scenes for days to write the massive bill. It was supposed to be ready Friday, but by Sunday even more glitches were caught and changes made. To prod the work, Schumer kept senators in session over the weekend, encouraging the authors to finish up work.

Late Sunday night, most of the 10 senators involved in the bipartisan effort rose on the Senate floor to mark the moment.

“We know that this has been a long and sometimes difficult process, but we are proud this evening to announce this legislation,” said Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., a lead negotiator. The bill showed “we can put aside our own political differences for the good of the country,” she said.

Republican negotiator Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio said the final product will be “great for the American people.”

Over the long weekend of starts and stops, Schumer repeatedly warned that he was prepared to keep lawmakers in Washington for as long as it took to complete votes on both the bipartisan infrastructure plan as well as a budget blueprint that would allow the Senate to begin work later this year on a massive, $3.5 trillion social, health and environmental bill.

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, predicted: “It’s going to be a grind.”

Among the major new investments, the bipartisan package is expected to provide $110 billion for roads and bridges, $39 billion for public transit and $66 billion for rail. There’s also set to be $55 billion for water and wastewater infrastructure as well as billions for airports, ports, broadband internet and electric vehicle charging stations.

The spending is broadly popular among lawmakers, bringing long-delayed capital for big-ticket items that cites and states can rarely afford on their own.

Paying for the package has been a challenge after senators rejected ideas to raise revenue from a new gas tax or other streams. Instead, it is being financed from funding sources that might not pass muster with deficit hawks, including repurposing some $205 billion in untapped COVID-19 relief aid, as well as unemployment assistance that was turned back by some states and relying on projected future economic growth.

“I’ve got real concerns with this bill,” said Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah.

Bipartisan support from Republican and Democratic senators pushed the process along, and Schumer wanted the voting to be wrapped up before senators left for the August recess.

Last week week, 17 GOP senators joined all Democrats in voting to start work on the bipartisan bill. That support largely held, with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., voting yes in another procedural vote to nudge the process along in the 50-50 Senate, where 60 votes are needed to overcome a filibuster an advance legislation.

Whether the number of Republican senators willing to pass the bill grows or shrinks in the days ahead will determine if the president’s signature issue can make it across the finish line.

Cornyn said he expects Schumer to allow all senators to have a chance to shape the bipartisan bill and allow for amendments from members of both parties.

“I hope we can now pump the brakes a little bit and take the time and care to evaluate the benefits and the cost of this legislation,” Cornyn said.

The bipartisan bill still faces a rough road in the House, where progressive lawmakers want a more robust package but may have to settle for this one to keep Biden’s infrastructure plans on track.

The outcome with the bipartisan effort will set the stage for the next debate over Biden’s much more ambitious $3.5 trillion package, a strictly partisan pursuit of far-reaching programs and services including child care, tax breaks and health care that touch almost every corner of American life. Republicans strongly oppose that bill, which would require a simple majority for passage. Final votes on that measure are not expected until fall.

___

Associated Press writers Mary Clare Jalonick and Brian Slodysko contributed to this report.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York Health Commissioner Howard Zucker, who was a leading defender of...
Associated Press

New York health chief, defender of Cuomo policies, resigning

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York Health Commissioner Howard Zucker, who was a leading defender of former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, has submitted his resignation, Gov. Kathy Hochul said Thursday. Hochul thanked Zucker for his service and said he has agreed to stay on until the state names a new commissioner. […]
1 day ago
ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) — Croatian police have broken a gang that smuggled more than 100 migrant...
Associated Press

Croatian police break migrant smuggling gang, arrest 7

ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) — Croatian police have broken a gang that smuggled more than 100 migrants from Bosnia into Croatia and on toward Western Europe, and charged nine suspected members, officials said Thursday. The suspects are eight Croatian nationals and a Serb, police said in a statement. Seven have been arrested and two remain at […]
1 day ago
FILE - This Tuesday, April 13, 2021 file photo shows the Washington National Cathedral is seen at s...
Associated Press

Famed cathedral names artist to replace Confederate windows

Washington National Cathedral has chosen contemporary artist Kerry James Marshall, renowned for his wide-ranging works depicting African American life, to design new stained-glass windows with themes of racial justice that will replace a set with Confederate imagery that the landmark sanctuary removed in 2017. The cathedral on Thursday said he will design four windows that […]
1 day ago
FILE - This Feb. 4, 2013 file photo shows a close up of a Boy Scout uniform in Irving, Texas. Amid ...
Associated Press

Boy Scouts’ bankruptcy creates rift with religious partners

NEW YORK (AP) — Amid the Boy Scouts of America’s complex bankruptcy case, there is worsening friction between the BSA and the major religious groups that help it run thousands of scout units. At issue: the churches’ fears that an eventual settlement — while protecting the BSA from future sex-abuse lawsuits — could leave many […]
1 day ago
Luciana Benetti, 16, embraces her pet pig Chanchi at home in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Saturday, Sep...
Associated Press

Some Argentines turn to unusual pandemic pets for comfort

Millions of people have found solace during the pandemic in cuddling a dog or cat. For a few, comfort comes in other forms — those of a horse or a pig, perhaps a possum-like sugar glider or even a tarantula. As the new coronavirus began to circulate last year, Luciana Benetti found her plans for […]
1 day ago
FILE - In this Aug. 13, 2019 file photo, an employee checks a visitor outside the Metropolitan Corr...
Associated Press

The jail where Jeffrey Epstein killed himself is crumbling

NEW YORK (AP) — Inside the notorious federal jail in Lower Manhattan, small chunks of concrete fall from the ceiling. Freezing temperatures force inmates to stuff old coronavirus face masks into vents to try to stop the cold air. One cell is off-limits because the door is now unstable – likely because of constant pounding […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

...
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
...
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
...
Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for both lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.
Courtesy of JWatch Photography....
Experience Anacortes

Summer Fun Activities in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
...
By Alaska Airlines

Calling all football fans: follow Russell on the road

Take your Northwest spirit that we’re known for on the road this season with Alaska Airlines.
...
By Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.
It’s in – and big: Senators produce $1T infrastructure bill