Infrastructure timetable extends as Senate debate slows

WASHINGTON — A slow-going Senate debate over a broad $550 billion infrastructure package spilled into Sunday and could go on for days yet, with lawmakers unable to agree on which final changes to consider.

Amendments still on the table include proposals for new cryptocurrency rules and flexibility for states and localities that choose to use some unspent pandemic relief funds for roads and bridges.

Sen. Bill Cassidy, a Louisiana Republican who helped negotiate the bipartisan proposal, said he expects the package of money for roads, water systems and broadband expansion will eventually pass, but suggested that may be two days away unless all 100 senators can agree to speed things up.

“Probably it’s going to pass,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. “We’ll have a vote tonight at 7:30 and then another vote — if you just look at the clock playing out — sometime on Tuesday. So, it could go quicker, but it’s going.”

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer opened the Sunday session saying Democrats were ready to consider amendments.

“That will require the cooperation of our Republican colleagues,” he said. “In any case, we’ll keep proceeding until we get this bill done.”

At least one GOP senator, Bill Hagerty of Tennessee, has refused to allow the unanimous agreement needed to speed past hours and hours of remaining debate. He is among a cluster of Republicans who oppose the bill because it will be followed by a Democratic effort to push through without Senate GOP backing a more expansive $3.5 trillion measure entailing the rest of Biden’s economic agenda.

“I’m not inclined to expedite this process whatsoever,” Hagerty said on Saturday.

Hagerty earned plaudits from former President Donald Trump who complained that Senate President Mitch McConnell “couldn’t do anything” with the infrastructure bill he proposed while in office.

“This will be a big victory for the Democrats and will be used against Republicans in the upcoming elections,” Trump said Sunday.

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