© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The exterior of the U.S. Capitol is seen as Senators work to advance the bipartisan infrastructure bill in Washington, U.S., August 8, 2021. REUTERS/Sarah Silbiger/File Photo
By Richard Cowan and David Morgan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate on Tuesday is set to hand President Joe Biden a $1 trillion victory when it votes to pass one of the largest infrastructure investment bills in decades and then launches debate on a budget framework aimed at setting the stage for $3.5 trillion in additional investments.
Taken together, the measures, if eventually enacted into law, would jump-start road and bridge-building projects across the United States over the next five years and new social programs over the next decade.
Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer late on Monday set the vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill for 11 a.m. (1500 GMT) on Tuesday.
If the Senate, as expected, passes the bill, many rural communities would be in line to get broadband internet service, potentially boosting their economies.
Once passed, the legislation would go to the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives for consideration sometime this fall.
An around-the-clock session could then be in store for the Senate as it aims to debate and pass the larger, $3.5 trillion budget plan.
In order to move through the evenly divided Senate without Republican support, Democrats aim to employ a “reconciliation” procedure that would allow them to advance the budget plan this week and implementing legislation later this year on simple majority votes.
The budget plan would provide various Senate committees with top-line spending levels for a wide range of federal initiatives, including helping the elderly get home healthcare and more families afford early childhood education.
It also would provide tuition-free community college and foster major investments in programs to significantly reduce carbon emissions blamed for climate change.
Later, Senate committees would have to fill in the details for scores of federal programs.
The budget blueprint was formally unveiled on Monday, the same day a U.N. climate panel warned that global warming was reaching emergency levels, or what United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres described as a “code red for humanity.”
Referring to the budget initiative, Democratic Senator Gary Peters, who represents the auto-manufacturing state of Michigan, said during debate on Monday: “Not only will this set us on a path to a more sustainable future, it helps grow America’s domestic manufacturing sector.”
Republicans, however, have dismissed the Democrats’ budget plan as a “socialist” waste of money. They vow to oppose it.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the top Democrat in Congress, has warned that the Senate must pass both the $1 trillion infrastructure bill and the $3.5 trillion measures before it will act.
Senate passage of the infrastructure bill and the budget plan would clear the way for it to begin a month-long summer break.
When Congress returns in September, it will not only debate the large investment measures but have to fund government activities for the fiscal year beginning on Oct. 1, increase Washington’s borrowing authority and possibly try to pass a voting reform bill.