The United States Senate voted in favor of starting debate on the bipartisan infrastructure bill.
With seventeen Republicans and all fifty Democrats voting in favor of beginning deliberations, the proposal for $550 billion in new spending has officially cleared an important procedural hurdle.
The vote opens the process to debate and amend the proposal, which would put $550 billion into transportation, broadband and utilities. While senators who backed the procedural motion could oppose a final package, Wednesday’s vote bodes well for its chances of passage.
The deal came together earlier in the day after Democratic and Republican negotiators resolved disputes over transit and broadband funding, among other issues. The plan was trimmed from the $579 billion in new spending senators and the White House agreed to last month — a sum many Democrats considered paltry.
Indeed, progressive lawmakers — such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) — are disappointed that the package does not include new spending on social programs.
“House Democrats are very committed to making sure that, in Sen. Cassidy’s works, that infrastructure is very centered upon women,” Ocasio-Cortez recently explained to NBC News. “In addition to a bridge, you need a babysitter.”
“You can have an enormous price tag that is chock full of fossil fuel giveaways and doesn’t spend that money in a way that is going to solve our problems,” she explained. “Likewise, you can also have an infrastructure plan that is too small, and it’s so small that it doesn’t invest in any meaningful way that people can really feel a positive impact in their everyday lives… This is our one big shot, not just in terms of family, child care, Medicare, but on climate change.”
Although the White House has unveiled a fact sheet about the legislation, many Republicans refused to open debate without seeing the text of the bill.
“I voted no on infrastructure a week ago because there was no legislative text,” explained Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC). “My mind hasn’t changed. There’s still no legislative text or explanation on how to pay for a $1T infrastructure plan.”
According to Fox Business, the seventeen Senate Republicans voting in favor of opening debate were Roy Blunt (R-MO), Richard Burr (R-NC), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), John Hoeven (R-ND), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Rob Portman (R-OH), James Risch (R-ID), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Todd Young (R-IN), and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).