WASHINGTON – The United States Senate reconvened Sunday to finalize legislation and move forward with a comprehensive $ 1 trillion spending plan for highways, rail lines, high-speed Internet and other infrastructure, with some senators forecasting final approval later this week.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the text was “imminently finalized” and that the Senate could soon begin voting on all relevant amendments, completing the bill “in a matter of days.”
The massive infrastructure package is one of President Joe Biden’s top legislative priorities and would be the largest investment in US roads, bridges, ports and transit in decades.
It includes $ 550 billion in new spending in addition to $ 450 billion in previously approved funding and would provide money to replace lead water pipes and build a network of electric vehicle charging stations.
Senator Jon Tester, a key Democratic negotiator on the legislation, told reporters that a possible robbery is a provision on wages. Democrats want to include a decades-old law that would require contractors to pay prevailing wages, usually higher levels set by unions, on projects funded by the legislation.
Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, told CNN that she believes at least 10 Republicans will support the measure, allowing it to overcome a 60-vote procedural hurdle.
“My hope is that we finish the bill before the weekend,” Collins said, adding that the measure is “good for America.”
Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, told CBS’s “Face the Nation” that another procedural vote was possible on Sunday and that he expected the bill to pass Thursday. He said the text of the bill was almost complete.
The final text, including detailed provisions for paying it, will determine whether a sizable bipartisan majority in the narrowly divided Senate can be sustained. which included 16 Republicans.
But Democrats have paired the “hard” infrastructure bill with a much larger $ 3.5 trillion “reconciliation” budget bill that would boost spending on education, child care, climate change and other party priorities.
Democrats also want to offset the spending with tax increases on corporations and wealthy Americans who earn more than $ 400,000 a year, measures that Republicans oppose.
Democrats can pass the largest bill on their own under special budget rules that allow only a simple majority
Manchin said that while the infrastructure bill should garner strong support, he could not guarantee passage of the ‘reconciliation’ bill.
It had to be paid in full to avoid a dangerous accumulation of debt, he said.
“Let’s see if the payments are real,” he said, adding that while he could support some tax increases, he was concerned that the US economy was not competitive.
Some progressive Democrats, particularly in the House of Representatives, have also suggested that the $ 1 trillion package is inadequate and that the Senate could impose changes that potentially complicate its chances of becoming law.
Democratic majorities in the Senate and House of Representatives are very slim and require the party to stick together if it is to achieve its legislative goals. (Reporting by David Morgan and Richard Cowan; written by David Lawder; edited by Ross Colvin and Andrea Ricci)