Senate passes $ 1 trillion infrastructure bill, with Leahy and Sanders voting yes
The US Senate on Tuesday passed a $ 1 trillion infrastructure bill with overwhelming bipartisan support. The bill would provide $ 550 billion to rebuild the country’s roads and bridges, invest in broadband, water and sewer plants, and solidify the country’s response to climate change.
The two Vermont senators, Democrat Patrick Leahy and Independent Bernie Sanders, voted for, as did 19 Republicans, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.
Vermont to receive $ 1.4 billion to fortify roads, $ 225 million to replace and repair bridges, $ 83 million to improve public transportation, $ 21 million to expand the vehicle charging network state electricity and at least $ 100 million to help provide statewide broadband coverage. . The bill would also provide $ 40 million for water quality projects in the Lake Champlain basin, Leahy’s office said.
The bill was painstakingly crafted by a group of Republican and Democratic senators in conjunction with White House officials. To reach a compromise that would attract at least 10 Republicans, the Democrats finally made some concessions. As originally proposed, the legislation provided for $ 2.3 trillion in infrastructure investment, including lead pipe replacement and broader climate initiatives.
In a press release, Leahy praised the Senate for working together to pass the law. “This is how the Senate is supposed to work. It hasn’t been easy, but it’s important for Vermont and our country, ”said Leahy.
In the Senate, Leahy stressed the importance of Bill’s efforts to address the climate crisis for the people of Vermont. “Later this month will be the 10th anniversary of Tropical Storm Irene. The devastation that occurred as the storm swept through our state showed that we need to rebuild better to make our communities and critical infrastructure more resilient to extreme weather events, ”he said.
Democratic Representative Peter Welch, the only House member from Vermont, said he was optimistic about the bill’s prospects in the House and was considering the potential passage of another infrastructure bill, from worth $ 3.5 trillion, which Senate Democrats said they would attempt to go through with reconciliation. – a process which allows budget legislation to be decided by simple majority.
“Passing the bipartisan infrastructure bill increases our chances of achieving reconciliation,” Welch said. “There is something [the two pieces of legislation] have in common; we are fixing a school that is good for all children and all parents, we are fixing a pothole, these children will be safer. This is really the reason there is so much bipartisan support all over the country. ”
Welch said he was eager to push for funding for school facilities – which is not currently in the bill – and other “human infrastructure” measures. “[The bipartisan bill] doesn’t cover everything, so hopefully we can either improve this infrastructure bill in the House or include some of those concerns in the reconciliation bill, ”Welch said.
Sanders spoke in the Senate shortly after the vote to congratulate President Joe Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York for their leadership on the infrastructure bill. He then quickly focused on the budget reconciliation bill, which as chairman of the Budget Committee he played a central role in shaping.
Sanders touted key provisions of the bill, including an expansion of medicare, strong investments in affordable housing, universal kindergarten, two years of free community college and ambitious measures to tackle climate change.
“At a time when California is on fire, Oregon is on fire, Greece is on fire and countries around the world are experiencing unprecedented drought, which will clearly have an impact on food production,” said Sanders . “This legislation begins the process of tackling climate change so that our children and grandchildren can live in a healthy and habitable country and planet.”
“It would be immoral and an absolute breach of our responsibilities as elected officials to do less,” he said.
The next step for the bipartisan infrastructure bill is a vote in the House, where Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Said the bipartisan bill would not be considered until the reconciliation bill. would not have passed in the Senate.
Missing the latest scoop? Sign up here to receive a weekly email with all of VTDigger’s political reporting. And in case you can’t get enough of the Statehouse, sign up for Final Reading for a preview of the day’s news in the Legislature.