Washington: The Senate gave overwhelming bipartisan approval to a $1 trillion infrastructure bill Tuesday to rebuild the nation’s deteriorating roads and bridges and fund new climate resilience and broadband initiatives, delivering a key component of President Joe Biden’s agenda.
The vote, 69-30, was uncommonly bipartisan. The yes votes included Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Senate Republican leader, and 18 others from his party who shrugged off increasingly shrill efforts by former President Donald Trump to derail it.
“This historic investment in infrastructure is what I believe you, the American people, want, what you’ve been asking for for a long, long time,” Biden said from the White House as he thanked Republicans for showing “a lot of courage.”
McConnell, who publicly declared that his priority was stopping the Biden agenda, said in a statement that “I was proud to support today’s historic bipartisan infrastructure deal and prove that both sides of the political aisle can still come together around common-sense solutions.”
The measure faces a potentially rocky and time-consuming path in the House, where Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a majority of the nearly 100-member Progressive Caucus have said they will not vote on it unless and until the Senate passes a separate, even more ambitious $3.5 trillion social policy bill this fall. That could put the infrastructure bill on hold for weeks, if not months.
The legislation is, no doubt, substantial on its own. It would be the largest infusion of federal investment into infrastructure projects in more than a decade, touching nearly every facet of the U.S. economy and fortifying the nation’s response to the warming of the planet. Funding for the modernization of the nation’s power grid would reach record levels, as would projects to better manage climate risks. Hundreds of billions of dollars would go to repairing and replacing aging public works projects.
With $550 billion in new federal spending, the measure would provide $65 billion to expand high-speed internet access; $110 billion for roads, bridges and other projects; $25 billion for airports; and the most funding for Amtrak since the passenger rail service was founded in 1971.