Senators are confident the bill will pass, but it’s now just a matter of how long that takes with the exact timing of a final vote still unclear, though it could come over the weekend or within the next few days.
After 12 hours of marathon negotiations to try to hammer out an agreement on final amendment votes that stretched late into Thursday evening, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced that the Senate would reconvene on Saturday and move to a vote to shut down debate on the bill.
“We very much want to finish this important bill,” Schumer said in floor remarks as he made the announcement.
If the procedural vote goes forward on Saturday, and 60 senators vote to advance the bill, then there would be a limited time for debate followed by additional votes — and then final passage. At that point, passage could occur as early as Saturday if all senators agree. If not, the vote could slip until early next week.
A number of senators had planned to attend a funeral taking place on Friday for former GOP Sen. Mike Enzi of Wyoming, which could affect some of the timing related to when senators return on Saturday.
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, a lead Democratic negotiator of the bill, said in remarks late Thursday that she looks forward to the chamber advancing what will be a “historic piece of legislation both in its bipartisan nature and in the impact it will have on our country.”
The massive bipartisan infrastructure package, called the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, is the culmination of drawn-out and painstaking negotiations between a bipartisan group of senators and the Biden administration and will allow both parties to claim a win after extensive work across the aisle.
It features $550 billion in new federal spending over five years. The measure invests $110 billion in funding toward roads, bridges and major projects, $66 billion in passenger and freight rail, $65 billion to rebuild the electric grid, $65 billion to expand broadband Internet access, and $39 billion to modernize and expand transit systems. Among many other priorities, the bill also includes $55 billion for water infrastructure, $15 billion of which will be directed toward replacing lead pipes.
Senators held votes on 22 amendments throughout the week after working the previous weekend to finalize the legislative text.
But Senate leaders failed to reach an agreement late Thursday night on a series of final amendment votes that they hoped would help speed up final passage of the bill as several lawmakers flexed their power to draw out the process.
Freshman Republican Sen. Bill Hagerty of Tennessee said that he objected to quick passage of the infrastructure bill on Thursday after the Congressional Budget Office score estimated that the package will add $256 billion to projected deficits over the next decade.
“Despite this news, I was asked to consent to expedite the process and pass it. I could not, in good conscience, allow that to happen at this hour — especially when the objective of the majority is to hurry up and pass this bill so that they can move quickly to their $3.5 trillion tax-and-spend spree designed to implement the Green New Deal and increase Americans’ dependence on the government so I objected,” Hagerty said in a statement.
Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the Senate Republican Whip, suggested to reporters late Thursday night that the failure to reach any agreement on amendments was ultimately a “good outcome, and that is: people kind of go to their corners, towel off and then we’ll come back and talk about it on Saturday.”