The Senate slogged away through the weekend, inching toward an agreement on the $1.5 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, which was delayed by one Republican senator’s refusal to sign off on an amendment to speed things up. Tennessee Republican Sen. Bill Hagerty refused to allow unanimous consent to forego 30 hours of time-wasting on Saturday, requiring the Senate to be in on Sunday and running the clock out. That sets up a vote for around 3:00 a.m. Tuesday morning, unless somehow Hagerty can be convinced to give in and allow it to move faster.
Hagerty had been on the phone with the former guy, according to sources to AP, who had been egging him on in obstructing the bill. Previous to his election to the Senate, Hagerty had been Trump's ambassador to Japan, and is one of his staunchest allies in Congress. Efforts by Senate Republicans to appease Trump apparently fell on deaf ears.
On Friday, chief Republican negotiator Sen. Rob Portman even went on national television to give all the credit to the Trump for this bill. Literally. "I have encouraged President Trump to take credit for this," Portman said on CNN. "President Trump's effort to raise the level of awareness about the need for infrastructure improvement should help us get this done. He proposed a $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill. He's a developer, he understands the need for infrastructure."
The slobbering over the former squatter in the Oval Office continued on the Senate floor.
The delay also highlighted a growing dispute on amendments. Hagerty, in fact, tried to bring up 17 amendments on Sunday by unanimous consent. More than 20 have already been considered so far. That self-appointed paragon of bipartisanship, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, objected to his request, pointing to the fact that he was just wasting everyone's time.
Majority Leader Chuck Schumer got a little testy about it, as well. "I'd repeat that Democrats are ready and willing to vote on additional amendments to the bill before moving to final passage," Schumer said Sunday one the floor. "Once again, that will require the cooperation of our Republican colleagues." He added "I said yesterday that we could do this the easy way or the hard way. Yesterday, it appeared that some Republicans would like the Senate to do this the hard way. In any case, we'll keep proceeding until we get this bill done."
There's a possibility that more amendments will be considered Monday as the Senate moves toward a Tuesday (sometime) vote, including a problematic cryptocurrency proposal that has created bipartisan tension. It was apparently resolved by mid-morning Monday, helping to clear the way toward finalizing the bill.
The bipartisan infrastructure package includes $550 billion in new federal spending, about $110 billion for roads and bridges including $40 billion for bridges—rebuilding, replacing, and repairing. There's a relatively paltry $39 billion for modernize public transit—a $10 billion cut from the original agreement the senators had worked out with President Biden and less than half of the $85 billion Biden included in his original proposal. It includes $73 billion to repair the electrical grid, and $55 billion for water system upgrades, enough to replace just 1 in 4 lead drinking water pipes in the country.
There's $66 billion split between passenger and freight rail, and $65 billion in expanding broadband networks. Another $42 billion goes to ports ($17 billion) and airports ($25 billion), and $7.5 billion will go to zero- and low-emission buses and ferries. There's also $7.5 billion to build electric vehicle charging stations.
As of now, it looks like there will be Republican votes to pass it, with more than a dozen ending the filibuster on moving it forward. They've apparently decided that being able to go back to their home states and tout this accomplishment is worth helping Democrats. It will mollify some of the anti-Trump Republicans in the key states they need to keep in 2022, and it will give them the excuse to let absolutely nothing else pass for the rest of Biden's first term.
They can point to the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill and scream holy hell about the awful Democrats to resist do anything else to help the country. In fact, they're already doing that.