Senate Passes $1 Trillion Infrastructure Bill
Senator Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio, said that “everyone involved in this effort can be proud of what this body is achieving today — the Senate is doing its job.”
With a bipartisan victory pocketed, Democrats turned immediately to a more partisan venture, a second social policy package that would fulfill the remainder of their spending priorities. The Senate’s $3.5 trillion social policy budget, which is expected to pass along party lines late Tuesday or early Wednesday, will allow Senate committees to draft legislation packed with policies to address climate change, health, education, and paid family and medical leave, and pass it over the threat of a filibuster. It will also include tax increases — and is expected to generate unanimous Republican opposition.
“Despite this long road we’ve taken, we have finally, finally reached the finish line,” Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, said on Tuesday. But, directing his comments to colleagues eager to take up unaddressed priorities, he added, “We are moving on to a second track, which will make a generational transformation.”
The Senate vote capped a grueling, monthslong negotiation between the Biden administration and senators in both parties over the scope and size of an infrastructure bill. After an abbreviated effort to work with Senator Shelley Moore Capito, Republican of West Virginia, on a plan that could win backing from G.O.P. leaders, Mr. Biden turned his focus to a group of 10 moderate Republicans and Democrats who had helped strike the compromise that paved the way for a postelection pandemic relief package in December.
The senators and top White House officials spent weeks debating how to structure and finance the legislation over late-night meals, virtual meetings and phone calls. Even after the group triumphantly announced an outline in June, it took a month to translate that framework into legislation. Along the way, the effort appeared on the brink of collapse, after it failed a test vote in the Senate and Mr. Trump sniped at it from the sidelines, trying to persuade Republicans that they would pay a steep political price for supporting it.
“When we have more people on both sides of the aisle who want to do things in a partisan way, as opposed to figuring out how we can work together, I don’t think that’s in the best interests of the country,” Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Democrat of New Hampshire and one of the key negotiators, said in an interview. “It was really important for the continued relationships within the Senate that are so important to getting things done.”
Negotiators were particularly bedeviled by the question of how to pay for their plan. Republicans declared that they would not support any legislation that raised taxes and rejected a proposal to beef up I.R.S. enforcement against tax cheats, and Democrats ruled out raising user fees for drivers.