WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Tuesday, the Senate voted to pass a massive, bipartisan $1 trillion infrastructure spending bill that lawmakers touted as an example of Republicans and Democrats being able to work together on things when the chips are down.
The process took several months of back-and-forth negotiations between the two parties, and is set to finally address the ongoing problem of repairing and rejuvenating the United States’ aging and crumbling infrastructure system.
Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), who was one of the head negotiators on the bill, touted the achievement as “historic” and something that will benefit the country for decades.
“What we’re doing here today also demonstrates to the American people that we can get our act together on a bipartisan basis and get something done,” he said. “We can do big things on a bipartisan basis if we put our minds to it.”
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However, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) quickly pivoted from the success of the infrastructure bill to a push to advance a Democrat-drawn $3.5 trillion budget bill, which has been criticized by members of the GOP for containing numerous liberal financial allocations for expanded Medicare access, two years of free community college, making undocumented immigrants legal citizens, subsidizing child care, and universal pre-kindergarten.
“The two-track strategy is proceeding full steam ahead,” Schumer said.
The bill, headed up by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), will not require any Republican support to pass, as Democrats plan on using a process known as Budget Reconciliation, which drops the threshold of votes needed in the Senate to pass financial bills from the usual 60 to 50.
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was highly critical of the bill on Tuesday, and pledged to throw as many speed bumps into the road before it as possible.
“[Democrats] want to begin pushing through a reckless taxing and spending spree that was authored by our self-described socialist colleague Chairman Sanders,” he said. “We’re going to argue it out right here on the floor at some length. Every single senator will be going on record over and over and over.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CD), however, has stated that she will not allow a standalone vote on the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure – despite the urging of moderate Democrats – unless it’s included along with the $3.5 trillion budget plan.