US Senate set to pass $ 1 billion infrastructure package in bipartisan vote – .

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US Senate set to pass $ 1 billion infrastructure package in bipartisan vote – .


The US Senate is set to pass a $ 1 billion package to invest in America’s crumbling infrastructure with significant Republican backing, a bipartisan vote that will be seen as a major legislative achievement for the young presidency by Joe Biden.

Senators voted 68-29 Sunday night to end debate on the infrastructure bill, setting up a final vote for Monday night or Tuesday morning. Eighteen Republicans joined Democrats in crossing the procedural hurdle, a rare cross display in a sharply divided Senate, 50-50, between America’s two main political parties.

A similar number of Senate Republicans are likely to support final passage of the bill, which focuses on so-called hard infrastructure, including $ 110 billion for roads, bridges and other major construction projects, as well as 66 billion dollars for passenger and freight rail transport and $ 39 billion for other forms of public transport.

Once the bill passes the Senate, it will need to be approved by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives before Biden enacts it.

When asked on Monday how close Senators are to the “finish line,” Rob Portman, the Republican Senator from Ohio who helped negotiate the deal, said: “It’s fair at the street corner “.

Portman, who led the deal with Arizona Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, told CNBC: “Based on the test votes over the past four or five days, it looks like we’ll have about 18 or 20 Republicans joining. most Democrats to pass it. . . it will be a great bipartisan victory.

The Senate has already considered dozens of amendments to the 2,700-page infrastructure bill, slowing its passage. One of the sticking points over the weekend was the language surrounding the taxation and regulation of cryptocurrency transactions, which the White House wants to report to the Internal Revenue Service as part of broader efforts to strengthen tax compliance.

Lawmakers appeared to strike a deal on crypto arrangements on Monday, after a small group of Republicans and Democrats said they had worked with the US Treasury to “clarify the underlying text and ensure that those who do not act in as long as brokers will not be subject to the reporting requirements of the bill ”.

Biden, a Democrat who has spent more than three decades in the Senate, campaigned for the White House promising to overcome political divisions. But his early efforts to develop a vast array of infrastructure with Republican backing ran into a roadblock earlier this year when the White House talks with a group of Republican senators led by Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia. collapsed.

Fortunes were reversed, however, when a group of 10 lawmakers – five Democrats and five Republicans, including Portman and Sinema – struck a deal in June that they said would garner the support of at least 10 Republicans needed to erase the 60 votes from the Senate. systematic obstruction threshold. Their deal was approved by the White House, which has worked in recent weeks to galvanize public support for the proposals.

Republican support for the bill has grown despite attempts by Donald Trump to derail the legislation, one of the first signs that the former president’s grip on the party may be weakening.

Trump, who repeatedly vowed to push through aggressive infrastructure investments during his four years in the White House but made no specific proposals, sought to exert influence over his party ahead of the mid-election. -Mandate of next year, when Senate and House control will be up for grabs.

The former president threatened on Saturday to deny any approval to any Republican who he said was “foolish enough to vote for this deal.” But that didn’t stop more than a dozen Republicans from voting to move the legislation forward on Sunday night.

Republicans, however, remain united in their opposition to a second major spending bill introduced by Biden and his Democratic allies. Congressional Democrats on Monday separately released details of their plans for a $ 3.5 billion budget that they intend to pass without Republican backing using a Senate procedure called reconciliation.

The budget includes many progressive priorities that were left out in the bipartisan infrastructure plan, such as expanding paid medical leave benefits and school programs for children under kindergarten age. It also includes a tax increase for American families earning more than $ 400,000 a year.

One thing missing from the budget proposal is a provision to increase the debt ceiling, the maximum amount the US government can borrow by issuing bonds. This could spark a new battle later this year between Democrats and Republicans, who have declared themselves opposed to an increase in government borrowing.

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