Trump Called Sen. Bill Hagerty Prior to Request for More Debate on Infrastructure Bill

Former President Donald Trump reportedly called GOP Senator Bill Hagerty of Tennessee on Sunday morning before Hagerty requested further debate on the infrastructure bill he says is a "socialist debt bond" of new government spending, the Associated Press reported.

"I think he's doing Trump's bidding. I don't think there's any doubt about it," Democratic Senator Jon Tester of Montana, one of the lead negotiators for the legislation, said in an interview. "I think they want to try to draw this out as long as they possibly can and hope and pray that Congress fails."

Hagerty said his reasoning has less to do with Trump and more about increasing the federal deficit by about $256 billion over the next decade, as estimated by the Congressional Budget Office. Once the $1 trillion infrastructure package is approved, Democrats plan to take up an even more expensive spending measure, a $3.5 trillion social and environmental package that is not expected to get GOP support, the AP said.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

Bill Hagerty Request for Further Debate
Tennessee Senator Bill Hagerty made a request for more debate on the infrastructure bill after he reportedly received a call on Sunday from former President Donald Trump. Above, Hagerty speaks during a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies hearing on June 23. Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

Often elusive, the political center is holding steady in the Senate as a coalition of Democratic and Republican senators brushes off critics to push the $1 trillion infrastructure package toward final passage.

On the left, the Democrats have withstood the complaints of liberals who say the proposal falls short of what's needed to provide a down payment on one of President Joe Biden's top priorities.

From the right, the Republicans are largely ignoring the criticism from their most conservative and far-flung voices, including a barrage of name-calling from Trump as he tries to derail the package.

All told, some 70 senators appear poised to carry the bipartisan infrastructure bill to passage, a potentially robust tally of lawmakers eager to tap the billions in new spending it will unleash for public works projects back home.

"This is something that brings this country together," said Senator Rob Portman, R-Ohio, a lead negotiator. "We need the investment, let's be honest."

Senators hoisted the package over another hurdle late Sunday, easily clearing a remaining 60-vote threshold on a vote of 68-29, despite a few holdouts trying to run out the clock on debate and drag final passage to Tuesday. The measure would then go to the House.

"A very handsome, overwhelming vote," said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

The rare bipartisan momentum reflects a political power center that has sprung from the middle of the aisle in the narrowly split Congress. For weeks, senators have negotiated and shaped the package, overcoming partisan gridlock for a compromise with the Biden White House. A bipartisan group of House lawmakers has pledged its own support.

Backed by Biden and a sizable coalition of business, farm, labor and public interest groups, the package is one of the biggest investments of its kind in years. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act seeks to inject nearly $550 billion in new spending on roads, bridges, broadband internet, water pipes and other public works systems undergirding the nation. Some 20 Republican senators are poised to join Democrats in supporting support it.

"Look at the players," said Senator Richard Burr, R-N.C. "These are not the fringes of both parties."

Once voting wraps up, senators immediately will turn to the budget outline for the $3.5 trillion package of child care, elder care and other programs.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has so far allowed the bill to progress, calling the bill "a compromise."

Senators have spent the past week processing nearly two dozen amendments to the 2,700-page package, but so far none has substantially changed its framework.

More amendments have been offered on cryptocurrency, defense-related infrastructure and to allow states to repurpose a portion of their untapped federal COVID-19 relief aid for infrastructure. But it's unclear if they will be considered for votes.

Senators have found much to like in the bill, even though it does not fully satisfy liberals, who view it as too small, or conservatives, who find it too large.

An analysis of the bill from the Congressional Budget Office drew concerns, particularly from Republicans after concluding the legislation would increase deficits by about $256 billion over the next decade.

Unlike Biden's bigger $3.5 trillion package, which would be paid for by higher tax rates for corporations and the wealthy, the bipartisan package is funded by repurposing other money, and other spending cuts and revenue streams. The bill's backers argued that the budget office was unable to take into account certain revenue streams—including money from future economic growth.

The House is expected to consider both Biden infrastructure packages when it returns from recess in September.

Senator Hagerty Requests for More Debate
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer arrives at the Capitol on Sunday as senators convene for a rare weekend session to continue work on the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill. J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press