US senators were expected to advance Sunday on a $ 1 trillion package for highways, rail lines and other infrastructure, with the text of a bill to be delivered.
As they did so, a prominent House progressive fired a shot through their bows.
“Bipartisanship doesn’t always mean it’s in the interest of the public good, frankly,” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York told CNN. “Sometimes there are a lot of gifts from corporate lobbyists on some of these bills.”
If the Senate bill passes, the House will consider the matter.
The bipartisan group working on the Senate text said it would be ready by Sunday, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said at the Senate floor Saturday night.
A sizable bipartisan majority in the 50-50 Senate has backed the bill by two votes, although no legislator has seen the final text. A phantom bill has been voted on that will incorporate current legislation once it is complete.
On Friday, the Senate voted 66-28 to accept the bill with 16 Republicans joining 48 Democrats and two independents. The Senate called an unusual session on Saturday.
On Sunday morning, Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine told CNN’s State of the Union that she believed more than 10 of her Republican colleagues would eventually support the plan.
Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, said he expected the final text of the bill to be available Sunday, which would allow the Senate to proceed with consideration Sunday night with final approval later this week.
The massive infrastructure package is President Joe Biden’s top legislative priority.
In addition to the $ 450 billion previously approved, the package is expected to include $ 550 billion in new spending and dramatically increase spending on roads, bridges, transit, and airports. It also includes money to scrap leaded water pipes and build electric vehicle charging stations.
Pete Buttigieg, the transportation secretary, told ABC’s This Week: “All Americans are going to see a difference and I think that’s one of the reasons he had this extraordinary sight, something you just don’t see in the Washington of today very often on one main issue, which is Republicans and Democrats coming together and saying, ‘Let’s do this.’
“And in reality, companies and workers are rarely on the same page on an important economic issue, at the table saying, ‘Okay, let’s do this.’
Supporters, including Schumer and Republican leader Mitch McConnell, have been optimistic about the bill’s prospects. But it doesn’t include funding for climate change and social initiatives, which progressives have pushed for.
Democrats have included those measures in a separate $ 3.5 trillion package, which they will attempt to pass without Republican support. With vital Democratic unanimity, some centrist senators have doubted whether they will support it.
Progressives have also suggested that the $ 1 trillion package is inappropriate and that the Senate could impose changes that potentially complicate its chances of becoming law.
On Sunday, Ocasio-Cortez told CNN: “If there is no reconciliation bill in the House, and if the Senate does not pass the reconciliation bill, we will keep our end of the bargain and we will not pass the bill. bipartisan until we get all of these investments in.
“And I want to make it clear that the investments in the bipartisan bill are not all sweet… For example, some of the language around the privatization of public infrastructure, the installation of toll roads, the leasing of public infrastructure to private entities They are very concerning and should be concerning to all Americans.
“So we really need to look at that language and see what is put there when it comes home. Being bipartisan doesn’t always mean it’s in the public good’s interest, frankly. Sometimes there are a lot of gifts from corporate lobbyists on some of these bills. “
Majorities of Democrats in the Senate and House of Representatives are slim and require the party to stick together if it is to achieve its legislative goals.