Senate Passes Infrastructure Bill, Sending $1.2T Plan to House

The U.S. Senate has passed an historic $1.2 trillion infrastructure package—sending it to the House for further vetting.

"It's been a long and winding road, but we've persisted and now we have arrived," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, said on the Senate floor ahead of the vote. "The American people will now see the most robust injection of funds into infrastructure in decades ... it's been a long time coming."

The infrastructure package, which has been championed by U.S. President Joe Biden, is the product of bipartisan negotiations that stretched for several weeks behind-the-scenes. The text of the bill was unveiled last Sunday, and senators spent the rest of the week debating proposed amendments from Democrats and Republicans.

It includes money for roads and bridges, high-speed internet, rail and transit, drinking water upgrades and other priorities meant to shore up the nation's crumbling infrastructure.

"We've heard over the years—in fact, over the decades about the need for us to fix our infrastructure," Senator Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican who was one of the chief negotiators on the bill, said on the Senate floor just before the vote. "To me, not only does this investment make sense, but importantly, what we are doing here today also demonstrates to the American people that we can get our act together on a bipartisan basis and get something done; We can do big things on a bipartisan basis if we put our minds to it."

It needed 60 votes to advance under the Senate's rules, requiring bipartisan support on the final deal. Nineteen Republicans joined all Democrats in the 69-30 vote for its passage Tuesday afternoon.

It's unclear when the House, which is currently on its August recess, will take up the infrastructure package. Members have been put on a 24-hour callback notice, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said the chamber won't take up the surface infrastructure bill without Senate approval on a separate proposal that covers new programs.

"Whatever you can achieve in a bipartisan way, bravo," Pelosi told reporters Friday. "But, at the same time, we're not going forward with leaving people behind."

Schumer indicated that he would keep the Senate in session, cutting into members' recess, to pass the larger package. The chamber is expected to immediately take up the measure.

"Our goal is to pass both a bipartisan infrastructure bill and a budget resolution during this work period, and we will stay here to get both done," Schumer said last week.

The $3.5 trillion budget framework includes money for many of the Democratic leaders' priorities, including a paid family leave program, universal preschool and free community college, as well as efforts to address climate change.

It's modeled after Biden's proposed American Families Plan and includes many of the same items.

Instead of needing 60 votes, the reconciliation measure will only require a simple majority in the Senate. If all 50 Democrats support the proposal, Vice President Kamala Harris will cast the tie-breaking vote to let it move forward.

Update 8/10/21 - 12:20 PM - This story has been updated with the final vote total.

Senate passes infrastructure package
A aerial view of Brooklyn Bridge is seen in New York City on August 5, 2021. President Joe Biden's plan for a $1.2 trillion investment in US infrastructure was approved by the U.S. Senate and now heads to the House of Representatives. Kena Betancur / AFP/Getty Images