Washington — Senators on Sunday unveiled the legislative text of the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill during a rare weekend session as lawmakers rush to begin the amendment process ahead of an expected vote on final passage by the end of the week.
The bipartisan group of senators that negotiated the deal released the legislative language of the bill on Sunday, totaling 2,702 pages. The legislation would authorize more than half a trillion dollars in new spending to bolster the country's roads, bridges and other physical infrastructure.
Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine said Sunday on the Senate floor that the legislation would be the "most significant investment in our infrastructure since the construction of the interstate highway system."
"Given how bipartisan the bill is and how much work has already been put in to get the details right, I believe the Senate can quickly process relevant amendments and pass this bill in a matter of days," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Sunday before submitting the bill.
Circulation of the legislative text to senators comes after the bipartisan group of Senate negotiators and the White House announced last week theyon the details of the bipartisan infrastructure bill, capping weeks of negotiations over the framework in June.
The Senatelast week while the lead negotiators continued working to finish the legislative language. Schumer then for the weekend in anticipation of the bill text being finalized, the release of which now paves the way for members to begin offering amendments.
Schumer said Sunday he expects the Senate will vote for final passage on the bill "in a matter of days" after consideration of "all the relevant amendments." Senators must first vote to replace the current text with the language from the version released Sunday before moving on to the amendment process.
The bipartisan legislation is the first part of a two-track strategy pushed by the White House and Democratic leaders to enact the key pillars of Mr. Biden's economic agenda. Once that plan clears the Senate, Schumer said he will immediately move to phase two: a broader $3.5 trillion spending proposal that encompasses the president's policies on child care, health care, education and the environment.
That measure will move through Congress under a procedure known as budget reconciliation, which enables it to pass the Senate with a simple majority and only Democratic support.
"Both tracks are very much needed by the American people, and we must accomplish both," Schumer said Sunday.
The bipartisan infrastructure plan includes $550 billion in new spending on the nation's physical infrastructure and has been praised by Mr. Biden as the largest investment in roads, bridges, ports, water and rail in decades.
The measure provides $110 billion for roads, bridges and major projects, $39 billion for public transit and $66 billion for railways. It also calls for $65 billion for broadband infrastructure deployment and $55 billion for clear water investments. The proposal would be financed through unspent COVID-19 relief funds, targeted corporate user fees and strengthened tax enforcement regarding crypto currencies, according to the White House.
Mr. Biden was active in discussions over the infrastructure proposal, hosting Senate negotiators at the White Houses and working the phones during the weeks of talks. The plan, he said last week after the deal was reached, is evidence that elected officials in Washington are still capable of bipartisanship.
But progressive members of the House are raising concerns about some provisions of the Senate-negotiated bill, and their opposition could hinder its passage in the lower chamber.
On Sunday, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat from New York, told CNN's "State of the Union" some of the mechanisms for paying for the bipartisan plan are "very alarming" and said lawmakers need to review the legislative language. She also stressed that passage of the bipartisan proposal by the House hinges on the Senate's approval of the $3.5 trillion package.
"If there is not a reconciliation bill in the House and if the Senate does not pass a reconciliation bill, we will uphold our end of the bargain and not pass the bipartisan bill until we get all of these investments in," she told CNN.
Democrats hold a narrow majority in the House, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi has also vowed she will not bring the narrow measure to the floor until the Senate moves on the second $3.5 trillion spending package.