The U.S. Senate today handed President Biden a remarkable $1 trillion victory, passing the largest infrastructure bill in decades, promising years of investment in roads, bridges and internet access.
It passed on a vote of 69 to 30 as 19 Republicans joined Democratic senators in voting in favor of the bipartisan bill.
Vice President Kamala Harris, as presiding officer, announced the final tally, sending the bill back to the House.
Minority leader Mitch McConnell was among the Republicans who joined Democrats to get the bill over the finish line, as was Sen. Lindsey Graham, who said: ‘This bill provides American infrastructure with a much-needed facelift.’
But the moment of bipartisan agreement is likely to be brief as Democrats plan to push ahead immediately with their vast $3.5 trillion budget bill to address social care, education, climate change and a raft of Biden’s key domestic policy priorities.
Republicans have made clear their deep opposition to such a sweeping spending program.
Democrats were quick to celebrate the achievement even though there are more delays ahead.
Biden tweeted: ‘Big news, folks: The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal has officially passed the Senate.
‘I hope Congress will send it to my desk as soon as possible so we can continue our work of building back better.’
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has made clear that she will not move on the bill until the Senate has passed the budget proposals.
The Investment and Jobs Act emerged from discussions between 10 senators who took Biden’s promise of a $2.4 billion package and whittled it into a program that would pass the 50-50 Senate split.
It ended up as a 2700-page bill that was backed by the White House, as well as business and labor interests.
Even a concerted barrage of broadsides from former President Trump could not stop Republicans backing the investment.
Sen. Rob Portman, one of the Republican negotiators said: ‘It is time to fix our roads and bridges.
‘We can do so in a responsible way. Not by raising taxes on the American people, but by making important investments in long-term capital assets that will last for years.’
Republicans who voted against the package said they feared opening the doors to even more spending with the budget.
Earlier Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said the infrastructure agreement showed bipartisan progress was possible in a divided Washington.
‘This is a big day,’ Buttigieg said on CNN’s New Day. ‘What we see in today’s bitterly divided Washington is Republicans and Democrats coming together with the president to say we need to do this.’
‘Well, it’s taken quite a while, there have been a lot of bumps in the road, but in a few minutes, I will announce that we have come to an agreement for final passage of the bipartisan infrastructure proposal,’ Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on the Senate floor Monday night.
‘Let me say this, it has taken quite a long time, and there have been detours and everything else, but this will do a whole lot of good for America, and the Senate can be proud it has passed this,’ Schumer added.