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Senate Vote On Infrastructure Package Took Place Wednesday Evening

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

The infrastructure deal crafted by a bipartisan group of senators cleared its first legislative hurdle this evening when the Senate voted to advance the bill 67-32. Seventeen Republicans joined all the Democrats. A final Senate vote on the measure could happen next week. The roughly $1 trillion agreement to fix the nation's crumbling roads, bridges and transit systems, one of President Biden's top domestic priorities, was announced earlier today. President Biden praised the agreement today at a stop in Pennsylvania.

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PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: While there's a lot we don't agree on, I believe that we should be able to work together on the few things we do agree on.

CHANG: NPR congressional correspondent Susan Davis joins us now.

Hey, Sue.

SUSAN DAVIS, BYLINE: Hey, Ailsa.

CHANG: All right. So what is in this deal?

DAVIS: Well, this is a win for President Biden, you know, both in substance and in the politics. The items in here are a big part of his domestic agenda, but it's also proof of his political view that he could get the parties to work together. The package isn't necessarily new policies. It's just a lot more money. It's going to provide about $1.2 trillion over the next eight years. But more than 500 billion of that is going to be new spending. It includes more than $100 billion for roads. It's also going to have a huge infusion for transit systems. It's got money for one of Biden's personal priorities, the Amtrak rail system, which he rode for years as a senator.

CHANG: Right.

DAVIS: The bill will also fund drinking water systems, provide more money for clean energy programs and a lot more money for high-speed internet, particularly in rural parts of the country.

CHANG: OK, so what are the next steps at this point?

DAVIS: Well, they have to write it.

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DAVIS: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says he's confident they have the 60 votes they need to overcome procedural hurdles, but that he believes that they can wrap up this bill in days, not weeks. It's also tied a bit to the fate of a separate budget reconciliation bill that Democrats are trying to move in tandem with this. So a very important couple of weeks in the Senate to advance probably two of President Biden's most important domestic agenda items.

CHANG: Very important, to be sure. OK. That is NPR's Sue Davis. Sue, just stay with us for a bit. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.