Aug 1, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Key senator vows to pass infrastructure bill this week

Illustration of an American flag with a railroad track being built on one of the stripes with little construction workers

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A 2,700-page bipartisan infrastructure bill was headed to Senate desks Sunday with promises it will pass the chamber by the end of the week. A final version was promised after additional edits.

Why it matters: While that's progress for the president’s most prominent 2021 legislative goal, the House is shaping up as a potential obstacle before money starts flowing to build new roads, bridges and expand broadband access.

  • "These deals on infrastructure that have gone out are not just bipartisan, but they are also bicameral, " Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) said on CNN's "State of the Union."
  • "That means House and Senate," she added.
  • "I respect that we have to get Sen. Sinema and Manchin's vote on reconciliation," Ocasio-Cortez added. "They should also respect that there's a very tight House margin, and that we have to be able to uphold our end of the bargain as well. And House progressives are also part of that majority."

Her comments highlighted concerns she and her fellow progressives harbor.

  • They want to ensure their wishes are fulfilled by a multi-trillion-dollar follow-up reconciliation bill if they're left out of the $1.2-trillion bipartisan bill.
  • Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) said last week she won't support a reconciliation bill totaling a reported $3.5 trillion, and another key Democratic moderate in the 50-50 Senate, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), has said he would only support a lower figure.

The timing: Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), told "State of the Union" it's her "expectation and hope" the bipartisan bill will pass this week.

  • She added that she believes there are at least 10 Republican votes for the bill, ensuring its passage as long as all 50 Democrats are on board.
  • "I believe that it will [pass]," she said. "This bill is good for America."
  • Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on the Senate floor he believes all amendments will be considered "in a short period of time," and legislators will be able to finish the bill in "a matter of days."
  • The bill was printed and headed to senators for its first amendment discussion Sunday afternoon when it was pulled back for final edits following a meeting for the Group of 22 senators, an aide familiar with the situation told Axios' Alayna Treene.

Schumer reiterated his pledge to also push through the reconciliation bill demanded by Ocasi0-Cortez, his fellow New Yorker.

  • "We know that this bill is not everything our country needs," Schumer said.
  • "Both tracks are very much needed by the American people, and we must accomplish both."

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) says he expects his chamber's seven-week recess will be cut short so members can return to deliberate the infrastructure bill.

  • Hoyer has yet to provide a concrete timeline, since Senate action remained fluid through the weekend.

Who to watch:

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has promised she will not bring the bipartisan bill up for a vote unless it also comes with a reconciliation bill.
  • Meanwhile, House Transportation Committee Chair Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) is publicly decrying the White House and Senate's efforts to negotiate the bipartisan bill largely without input from the House of Representatives.
  • Manchin said Sunday he could not guarantee a $3.5 trillion reconciliation package would have enough votes to pass in the Senate. That would create major issues in the House, given the statements made by Pelosi, Ocasio-Cortez and others.
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