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Biden’s Infrastructure Bill Is Moving Ahead. So, What’s Next?

The Senate is expected to vote on several amendments to the bill. Since this bill is very likely to eventually become law, many senators would love to hitch their pet priorities to the train.

From left, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, speaks as Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., and Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, listen during a news conference after a procedural vote for the bipartisan infrastructure framework at Dirksen Senate Office Building on Wednesday, July 28, 2021, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. (Alex Wong/Getty Images/TNS)
Alex Wong/TNS
(TNS) — A bipartisan group of senators is hoping to approve an expansive infrastructure bill this week after months of negotiation, compromise and delay.

The bill, which contains $550 billion in new spending on roads, bridges and broadband internet access, is the first part of President Joe Biden’s “Build Back Better” campaign. The bill’s text was released late Sunday, but several hurdles remain.

The bill text is out. What’s next?

The Senate is expected to vote on several amendments to the bill. Since this bill is very likely to eventually become law, many senators would love to hitch their pet priorities to the train.

But significant changes to the bill are unlikely. The threshold for those votes is expected to be 60, instead of the more typical 50. Leaders of both parties usually hold amendment votes at a higher threshold when they don’t want to risk changing the agreement reached on the underlying bill.

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., on Monday urged Republicans to quickly agree to a list of which proposed amendments will get a vote. “The longer it takes to finish the bill, the longer we’ll be here,” he said on the Senate floor.

“Given how bipartisan the bill is, and how much work has already been put in to get the details right, I believe the Senate can quickly process relevant amendments and pass this bill in a matter of days,” Schumer said Sunday. “We haven’t done a large, bipartisan bill of this nature in a long time.”

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., supports the measure but warned that he and other Republicans will demand a “robust and bipartisan amendment process” on the Senate floor. “Our full consideration of this bill must not be choked off by an artificial timetable that our Democratic colleagues may have penciled in for political purposes.”

How soon will the bill come to a vote in the Senate?

Once amendments are done, the Senate will most likely go through several more votes to get to final passage. Because of Senate rules allowing time for debate, those votes could take a few days. The entire process could be sped up if all senators reach agreement.

There will most likely be at least one more vote in which the bill will have to get the support of 60 senators to break a filibuster. The final vote on passage typically requires 50 votes.

Senators may be incentivized to get moving. The chamber was supposed to begin its monthlong recess this Friday. But many senators are expected to attend a funeral Friday for Sen. Michael B. Enzi, who retired late last year and died last month. Travel plans for the funeral could push a vote to early next week.

What took so long?

Biden and a bipartisan group of senators said they had agreement on a framework in late June. But it took weeks of negotiation among the bipartisan group — made up of about 22 senators at its most robust — as well as White House officials to hammer out final details, such as how the broadband expansion would work and how much funding would go to transportation.

How much support exists for the bipartisan plan now?

So far, the Senate has held two procedural votes on the bill, which got support from 67 and 66 senators, respectively.

Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, the lead Republican negotiator, has often said that support was built from the “center out,” meaning it has wide support from centrists on the political spectrum. He and his Democratic counterpart, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, are now hoping to build more support from progressives and conservatives.

What happens after the Senate votes on the bipartisan infrastructure bill?

The Senate plans to quickly move on to the second part of Biden’s infrastructure plan, which is an ambitious, $3.5 trillion proposal that would reshape the nation’s social safety net programs. That plan has no support from Republicans, so Democrats want to approve it through a fast-track legislative procedure that doesn’t allow for a filibuster.

Schumer plans to lay the groundwork for that proposal as soon as next week. The framework would require support from all 48 Democrats and the two independents who caucus with them. Work on the partisan plan would pick back up when the Senate returns to session in September.

The House is not expected to take up the bipartisan plan immediately. That’s because progressives refuse to consider the bipartisan plan until they are assured that the Senate can enact the more ambitious, partisan proposal.

©2021 Los Angeles Times. Visit at Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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