The exterior of the United States Capitol is seen as Senators work to advance the bipartisan infrastructure bill in Washington on Saturday. Democrats released details of a $ 3.5 trillion companion bill on Monday. (Sarah Silbiger, Reuters)
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WASHINGTON – As the US Senate draws closer to passage of a $ 1,000 billion infrastructure bill on Monday, Democrats released details of the expected $ 3.5 trillion companion bill regarding social spending and immigration to which they plan to turn next.
Early details of the larger bill – a key goal for Progressive Democrats – showed that it would offer tax incentives for “clean” manufacturing, make community colleges free for two years, and pave the way for citizenship for millions of immigrant workers.
The first bill, which sits atop Democratic President Joe Biden’s national agenda and includes $ 550 billion in new spending on roads, bridges and internet access, lifted a significant procedural hurdle on Sunday night when the Senate voted 69-28 in favor of the provisions contained in the 2,702-page plan.
The Senate also voted 68-29 to limit further debate to a maximum of 30 hours, setting up a possible adoption vote early Tuesday on the package, the result of months of bipartisan negotiations.
The massive spending bill is popular among many lawmakers on both sides because of the federal dollars it would provide to their home states. Polls also show Americans as a whole support the package.
But the bipartisan moment that produced it was likely to be fleeting as Democrats prepare to turn their attention to the larger bill, which they aim to push through Republicans’ objections with the help of ‘a parliamentary maneuver called “budgetary reconciliation”.
Democrats aim to debate and pass this non-binding resolution in the coming days, which would serve as the framework for more detailed and binding legislation later this year. Republicans vigorously opposed the size and cost of the follow-up package.
The Senate worked a second consecutive weekend to push forward the infrastructure bill.
During Sunday’s debate, Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada noted the boom in her state’s mining industry, saying new funds would strengthen “a supply chain of critical minerals and batteries that provides the key components of cellphones and laptops, electric vehicles, solar panels and more. . “
The Senate was scheduled to begin a four-week summer recess, but instead ended up in session Saturday and Sunday, which saw only occasional speeches ahead of procedural votes.
Even with the passage of the bill this week, senators will still not be able to return to their home countries or embark on popular overseas trips during long breaks.
Indeed, Senate Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer aims to immediately jump into debate over a budget framework that would provide the outline for the $ 3.5 trillion “human infrastructure” bill that Democrats want to start pushing forward in September.
It would include federal support for home health care for the elderly, as well as possible immigration reforms and funding to tackle climate change.
Unlike the $ 1,000 billion bill that pays for traditional infrastructure projects, the bigger one is unlikely to win the support of Republicans. That would leave it up to Democrats to prosecute him through a special procedure known as “reconciliation” in which he could pass a simple majority, instead of the 60 votes needed to move most bills forward.
The Senate is split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans, with Democrats claiming a majority through the decisive vote of Vice President Kamala Harris.
If the $ 1,000 billion bill is approved by the Senate, as expected, the Democratic-led House of Representatives is still expected to debate and vote on it, sometime after he returns in late September from his summer recess.