Justin Bullock, FISM News
The US Senate voted 67-32 to begin debate over a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that represents a substantial part of President Biden’s political agenda while in office. This bill is the product of months of negotiations between Democrats and Republicans led by Senators Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio). President Biden originally proposed a $2.25 trillion infrastructure plan but Republicans immediately said that they would not support such irresponsible spending.
Senator Sinema told reporters,
We’re excited to have a deal. We’ve got most of the text done, so we’ll be releasing it and then we’ll update it as we get those last pieces finalized.
The vote on Wednesday consisted of all 48 Democratic Senators, two independent Senators, and 17 Republican Senators. While the vote on Wednesday was merely procedural in order to begin formal debate on the Senate floor, it does represent an important step forward that was not necessarily guaranteed since Republicans have been staunchly opposing efforts by Democrats to even debate a bill. The bill, as it comes to the Senate floor, represents $550 billion in new spending and the rest consists of spending already budgeted out. A full detailed breakdown of the bill can be found here.
Despite their bipartisan success with this smaller infrastructure bill, Democrats seem intent on moving ahead with their larger $3.5 trillion “human infrastructure” bill as well. This will likely jeopardize the passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill as Republicans are firm in their opposition to the Democrats’ spending plans.
If the Democrats decide to move forward with the second larger bill then they will likely have to do so by way of reconciliation, which would only need a simple majority. This may not be as easy as it sounds, as some moderate Democrats are also expressing reservation concerning the additional $3.5 trillion plan. Passing such a large bill despite the unanimous opposition from Republicans could prove dangerous for Democrats’ electoral chances in the upcoming midterm elections.