Eighteen of the 50 Senate Republicans voted to advance the legislation, and Senators John Cornyn and Deb Fischer endorsed the package for the first time. But timing of passage remains unclear, as lawmakers prepared for expected votes on the amendments and worked behind closed doors to reach an agreement that would allow the Senate to complete its work on the legislation quickly.

“We can do this the easy way or the hard way. In any event, the Senate will remain in session until we finish our work, ”Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a speech before the vote. “It is up to my Republican colleagues how long it takes.”

Passage would be a huge victory for Schumer, Biden and the bipartisan group of senators who spent months crafting the package and would send the bill to the US House of Representatives.

Biden tweeted his support before the vote, saying that the “one-generation investment in our nation’s infrastructure” would create well-paying jobs renovating America’s roads, bridges, water systems and power grid. “We cannot afford not to,” the president said. “We can’t just rebuild the way things were before COVID-19, we have to rebuild better.”

Top House Republican Mitch McConnell also voiced his support for the bill before voting on it.

“Republicans and Democrats have radically different views these days, but both views include a physical infrastructure that works for all of our citizens,” McConnell said in a speech. “The investments that this bill will make are not only necessary, in many cases they are overdue. Our country has real needs in this area ”.

Lawmakers have not been able to agree on a final batch of amendments that could speed up consideration, leaving the Senate to consider the amendments piecemeal under rules that require legislation to advance in stages through a series of procedural votes.

With the consent of all 100 senators, the chamber could pass amendments to pass later on Saturday. But without such an agreement, the step could last until Monday or Tuesday.

When asked how long the process could take, Senator John Thune, the No. 2 Republican in the House, told reporters: “It depends on how long we spend looking at each other.”

Republican Senator Bill Hagerty, who was former President Donald Trump’s ambassador to Japan before replacing former Senator Lamar Alexander, also objected after the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said Thursday that the legislation would increase. federal budget deficits by $ 256 billion over 10 years. He voted against the measure on Saturday.

CBO analysis https://www.reuters.com/article/biden-infrastructure-costs/factbox-cbo-estimate-leaves-us-budget-shortfall-for-infrastructure-bill-backers-idUSL1N2PC30J did not include $ 57k millions in additional revenue that senators estimate Washington would collect in the long term from the benefits of economic growth from infrastructure projects. It also did not count $ 53 billion in unused federal supplemental unemployment funds to be returned by the states. (Reporting by David Morgan and Makini Brice; Additional reporting by Idrees Ali; editing by Scott Malone and Sonya Hepinstall)

Source: Reuters

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