Senators spent a second weekend in a row wrangling over the details of a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure proposal, putting off a planned summer break. “We’re doing it the old-fashioned way,” Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, told reporters on Sunday about the many days of debate.
Republicans joined Democrats on Saturday and Sunday in two procedural votes supporting the plan to fund repairs of roads, bridges, ports and more, and to make American commutes more green with projects related to electric vehicles, biking and pedestrian access. Last night, they cleared the last hurdle before a final vote in the chamber, possibly late Monday or Tuesday.
What’s the holdup? About a dozen proposed amendments were bandied about. Some senators want states to have more leeway over how to repurpose pandemic relief funds. Others are demanding more money for public transit, which has been allotted about $40 billion, less than originally envisioned. In a rare moment of unity, the chamber broke out into spontaneous applause when Ted Cruz, a staunchly conservative Republican from Texas, and Raphael Warnock, a progressive Democrat from Georgia, made a joint highway proposal that got unanimous support.
But differences over how to regulate cryptocurrency threatened to derail the process. Two competing crypto amendments have caused an unexpected stir, with lawmakers advancing dueling changes to how the bill defines a “broker” in a provision intended to raise more tax revenue from crypto transactions. There is no agreement over whether the amendments will get considered for inclusion before a final vote is called, with a 30-hour deadline set to expire in the wee hours of Tuesday morning.
Former President Donald Trump threatened senators supporting the infrastructure proposal, saying they will pay in primaries. But few appear moved and many perceive a chance to distance themselves from Mr. Trump. The minority leader, Mitch McConnell, said the legislation had “an excellent chance” of becoming “a bipartisan success story for the country.” But Senator Todd Young, the Republican from Indiana who was part of the group that drafted the bill, said Sunday that he would not vote to pass it because of concerns about its cost.