The U.S. Senate voted to advance a $1 trillion infrastructure package on Saturday (August 7), a procedural but important step forward after months of negotiations between President Joe Biden and a bipartisan group of senators.
In a 67-27 vote demonstrating broad bipartisan support, senators agreed to limit debate on the legislation, which represents the biggest investment in decades in America’s physical infrastructure including roads, bridges, airports and waterways.
But the timing for passage remained unclear, as lawmakers prepared for possible votes on amendments and worked behind closed doors to reach an agreement that would allow the Senate to complete its work on the legislation quickly.
The chamber’s top Republican, Mitch McConnell, signaled his support for the bill.
After hours of closed-door negotiations, senators were unable to reach agreement on Thursday on a final batch of amendments before many lawmakers left town to attend the funeral on Friday of former Senator Mike Enzi in Wyoming. Twenty-two amendments have already been debated.
Unless all 100 senators now consent to waive rules governing the legislative process, the Senate will have to pursue a series of procedural votes that could delay a vote on passage until as late as Monday or Tuesday.
Progress has been held up by a flurry of disagreements over demands for new Defense Department improvements and a bill provision on cryptocurrency.
So far, the current bill has attracted backing from enough Republicans to comfortably surpass the Senate’s 60-vote threshold, along with unanimous support from the chamber’s 50 Democrats.
But the legislation is still opposed by most of the Senate’s 50 Republicans and by Trump, who has regularly blasted moderate Republicans and McConnell over their support.
Former President Donald Trump made infrastructure spending a key plank of his 2016 presidential campaign but never made it a priority once he got into office and was unable to get legislation through Congress.
Some top Republicans believe Saturday’s vote on whether to limit debate could be a turning point.
(Production: Deborah Lutterbeck)