Members of the Problem Solvers Caucus are seen July 30 showing support for their bipartisan infrastructure bill, which was written by both Democrat and Republican lawmakers, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | License Photo
Aug. 9 (UPI) -- The Senate on Sunday night voted to end debate on a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, positioning it to be passed as early as this week.
The senators voted 68-29 to end debate on the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that includes $550 billion in new spending on infrastructure, a priority of President Joe Biden, after protracted negotiations on amendments.
The bill, which is expected to pass the Senate and head to the House, is one of two packages, including a massive $3.5 trillion budget resolution announced in July, that Democrats seek to pass to meet Biden's infrastructure goals.
"It has been a long day, but we have plowed through, as I have intended, and the cloture motion on the final bill has passed by a very handsome, overwhelming vote and now we will continue to move forward," Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer said from the floor following the vote. "We will move forward to wrap this up as expeditiously as possible and then move on to the budget resolution."
The 2,702-page legislation was unveiled last week after lengthy negotiations between nearly two dozen senators and the White House, and has been subjected to numerous amendments since and was stalled over the weekend by Sen. Bill Hagerty, R-Tenn., who declined to consent to a mandatory time agreement.
The senator and ally of former President Donald Trump argued his refusal to speed the process along is in objection to the Democrats' intention "to rush this bill through so that they can hurry up and light the fuse on their $3.5 trillion spending spree," which he described as a "socialist debt bomb."
"The only way that Democrats will agree to the amendments is if they can rush this bill through," he said from the floor.
Schumer, D-N.Y., noted earlier on Sunday that Democrats are willing to vote on amendments but that he hoped their Republican colleagues would cooperate to move on the popular bill along more quickly.
"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," he said.
The vote on Sunday followed one on Saturday when 18 Republicans joined their 50 Democratic colleagues to break a filibuster and end debate for the day.
Judd Deere, a representative for Hagerty, said he would not consent to speed up a bill "that adds to the deficit."
Late last week, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the bill would add $256 billion to the deficit. However, Pete Buttigieg, the Transportation secretary, told Fox News Sunday that the bill includes methods to pay for itself and that the "cost of doing nothing" to improve the nation's infrastructure would be far greater than the cost of the bill.
"You know, we have another deficit that's not being talked about enough right now, and that's the infrastructure deficit," he said.