The chamber voted to break a filibuster and advance the bill Saturday after months of furious negotiations, clearing a major hurdle for President Joe Biden’s agenda even as it will soon face an uncertain future in the House.
“We’ve been working hard all day on amendments and hopefully we can come to some agreement tomorrow but the time is burning as we go forward,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on the floor Saturday.
Eighteen GOP senators joined Democrats to shut down debate on the bill Saturday afternoon. 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.
Earlier Saturday, freshman Sen. Bill Hagerty’s spokesperson Judd Deere had made clear that the Tennessee Republican would not consent to speed up passage of the bill. An agreement to tee up additional amendment votes or speed up final passage requires all 100 senators to sign off, which means final passage of the bipartisan bill doesn’t look likely until Monday night or Tuesday morning — unless there’s an agreement.
“He will not consent to accelerate this package that adds to the deficit. The Senator is not objecting to votes on amendments, but the body should follow regular order as it works to complete this legislation,” Deere said.
Hagerty also argued the bipartisan bill is “tied” to Democrats’ larger social, environmental infrastructure package, which Senate Democrats hope to pass without GOP votes under the budget reconciliation process. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has indicated that the chamber won’t take up the bipartisan bill until Senate Democrats pass that separate and more expansive spending package — a position that continues to be met with criticism from Republicans and some moderate Democrats alike.
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.
After Hagerty indicated he would block the bill’s expeditious passage Saturday, a large group of his Republican colleagues were seen surrounding him on the Senate floor. Sens. Lisa Murkowski, Rob Portman and Thune and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s floor staff all spent several minutes huddling with the junior senator from Tennessee, who told reporters before going to the floor that he wasn’t blocking the passage and was merely letting the regular process play out.
When Hagerty said he wasn’t blocking anything, Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware softly responded next to him, “Yes you are.”
CNN’s Rachel Janfaza and Lauren Fox contributed to this report.