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Senate to move forward on $1T infrastructure package, long road ahead

New York Daily News logo New York Daily News 7/29/2021 Michael McAuliff, Chris Sommerfeldt, Dave Goldiner

They’ve got a deal.

After months of haggling, the U.S. Senate voted Wednesday evening to advance the nearly $1 trillion infrastructure package after President Joe Biden and a core bipartisan group of senators reached an agreement on the key part of the White House agenda.

“This deal signals to the world that our democracy can function,” Biden said in a statement. “We will once again transform America and propel us into the future.”

a man wearing a suit and tie: President Joe Biden © BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI President Joe Biden

President Joe Biden (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/)

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) thanked his colleagues just after the vote but advised they still have a long way to go. “I want to commend the group of Senators who worked with President Biden to reach an agreement on a bipartisan infrastructure bill.

“My goal remains to pass both the bipartisan infrastructure bill and a budget resolution during this work period,” said New York’s senior senator. “It might take some long nights. It might eat into our weekends. But we are going to get the job done. And we are on track.”

The agreement was announced between the White House and the Senate earlier in the day by Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), the lead GOP negotiator, and four other Republican senators who spent weeks in talks with Democrats and the Biden administration.

The rare bipartisan showing, on 67-32 vote, signaled interest among senators to allow debate on the package. In all, 17 Republicans joined the Democrats but it is unclear if they’ll agree on the final version of the bill.


Video: Senate appears prepared to move forward on bipartisan infrastructure deal (MSNBC)

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“I have not decided whether I will vote for final passage next week,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders (R-Vt.). “It is my absolute conviction that you’re not going to have a bipartisan bill unless you have a reconciliation bill of $3.5 trillion.”

The procedural step Wednesday night is expected to launch lengthy consideration.

The GOP senators were given a thick binder, more than 700 pages, of briefing materials during a private lunch, but they asked many questions and wanted more details.

According to a 57-page GOP summary, the five-year spending package would be paid for by tapping $205 billion in unspent COVID-19 relief aid and $53 billion in unemployment insurance aid some states have halted. It also relies on economic growth to bring in $56 billion.

The bill will include $148 billion for transit, including $59 billion for rail, a congressional source said. There was no word on the exact amount of cash coming to the Metropolitan Transit Authority, but the source called it at “bonanza” for New York straphangers.

It is expected to include funding for big-ticket items like the Gateway Tunnel to New Jersey, extending the Second Ave. subway and giving Metro-North trains access to Penn Station.

The new spending in the package dropped from about $600 billion to $550 billion, senators said, as money was eliminated for a public-private infrastructure bank and was reduced in other categories, including transit.

The package still includes $110 billion for highways, $65 billion for broadband and $73 billion to modernize the nation’s electric grid, according a White House fact sheet.

Additionally, there’s $25 billion for airports, $55 billion for waterworks and more than $50 billion to bolster infrastructure against cyberattacks and climate change. There’s also $7.5 billion for electric vehicle charging stations.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) did not commit to supporting the package until she sees the details, but said Wednesday she’s “rooting for it.”

Pelosi said, “I very much want it to pass.”

With News Wire Services

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