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President Biden with Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and other bipartisan senators. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

The Senate voted 69-30 on Tuesday to pass the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package, handing a major victory to President Biden and a group of senators that spent months negotiating on the agreement.

Why it matters: The monster bill would deliver hundreds of billions of dollars for roads, bridges, waterways and other "hard infrastructure" items. It is widely seen as a victory for both parties and the reputation of the Senate, especially given the current level of polarization in Congress.

  • Despite the bill's success in the Senate, it faces an uphill battle in the House, where members were largely left out of the negotiating process.
  • But the large margin of votes for the bill — 19 Senate Republicans voted in favor, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) — could make it harder for House progressives to dismiss outright.

What they're saying: Vice President Kamala Harris, who presided over the vote in the Senate, told reporters, "It’s a good day. It’s a very good day. Independents, Democrats, Republicans coming together, understanding that we can work together in the best interest of all of the American people."

One big thing to watch: The GOP split over the bipartisan infrastructure bill.

  • Several Republicans — including Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) — voted no, citing the Congressional Budget Office score, which stated the bill would add $256 billion to projected deficits.
  • Others, like Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) and outside conservative groups like Heritage Action, are criticizing the bipartisan bill as paving the way for Democrats' $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill.
  • Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), a member of Senate GOP leadership, cited the CBO score and lack of pay-fors for his "no" vote. Asked why he thinks McConnell voted for it, Cornyn told Axios: "My guess is it was important to him to show that the Senate can actually function on a bipartisan basis."

Details: The bill will cost $1.2 trillion over eight years, and offers more than $550 billion in new spending, including ...

  • $110 billion in new funds for roads, bridges, and major projects. $40 billion is new funding for bridge repair, replacement, and rehabilitation and $17.5 billion is for major projects.
  • $73 billion for the country's electric grid and power structures.
  • $66 billion for rail services.
  • $65 billion for broadband.
  • $55 billion for water infrastructure.
  • $21 billion in environmental remediation.
  • $47 billion for flooding and coastal resiliency.
  • $39 billion to modernize transit. This is the largest federal investment in public transit in history, according to the White House.
  • $25 billion for airports.
  • $17 billion in port infrastructure.
  • $11 billion in transportation safety programs.
  • $7.5 billion for electric vehicles and EV charging; $2.5 billion in zero-emission buses, $2.5 billion in low-emission buses, and $2.5 billion for ferries.
  • The bill will include language regarding enforcement of unemployment insurance fraud.
  • The measure will add $256 billion in projected deficits over eight years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

What's next: The Senate will now immediately move to consider Democrats' $3.5 trillion budget resolution, which contains many of the remaining social-spending and climate priorities in Biden's agenda.

  • The process will face its own series of amendments and procedural hurdles, but it is expected to pass as early as the end of this week.
  • Then comes the hard part. Once the budget resolution passes, Senate Democrats will have to begin negotiating sections of the reconciliation bill in earnest — without losing a single Democratic vote.
  • This will begin during August recess and continue through the fall.

Go deeper

Pelosi's back-to-school math problem

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) may need votes from an unlikely source — the Republican Party — if she hopes to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill by next Monday, as she's promised Democratic centrists.

Why it matters: With at least 20 progressives threatening to vote against the $1.2 trillion bipartisan bill, centrist members are banking on more than 10 Republicans to approve the bill.

First look: Conservatives' 2022 big target: Tax increases

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Conservative groups are unveiling huge ad-buys going after vulnerable House Democrats over tax increases and other revenue measures in their party's massive infrastructure spending bill, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: President Biden and Democrats have an immense amount of political capital riding on a $3.5 trillion bill facing razor-thin margins in both chambers. Conservatives are running ads targeting the House members who leaders will need to pass the measure.

Sep 20, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Democrats propose raising debt ceiling through midterms

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

House and Senate leadership announced on Monday that they plan to attach a proposal to raise the debt ceiling through Dec. 2022 to a short-term, government funding bill. The bill must pass before the end of the month or Congress risks a shutdown.

Why it matters: Democrats are taking a huge risk by trying to force through an increase of the debt limit in its must-pass funding bill. The move is wishful thinking on behalf of Democrats who are hoping they can get at least 10 centrist Republicans to balk, as well as an effort to put Republicans on record opposing it.