San Francisco Chronicle

Big spending bill clears key Senate hurdle

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The Senate advanced a roughly $1 trillion infrastruc­ture plan on Friday with a bipartisan group of senators helping it clear one more hurdle and bracing to see if support can hold during the next few days of debate and efforts to amend it.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., said the chamber should be able to process the legislatio­n quickly given the bipartisan support.

“We may need the weekend, we may vote on several amendments, but with the cooperatio­n of our Republican colleagues, I believe we can finish the bipartisan infrastruc­ture bill in a matter of days,” Schumer said.

But Sen. John Cornyn, RTexas, predicted, “It’s going to be a grind.”

Earlier this week, 17 GOP senators joined all Democrats in voting to start the debate, beginning what will be a dayslong process to consider the bill. That support largely held Friday with Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky again voting yes to nudge the process along.

But whether the number of Republican senators willing to pass a key part of President Biden’s agenda grows or shrinks in the days ahead will determine whether the president’s signature issue can make it across the finish line.

The bipartisan plan is big, with $550 billion in new spending over five years beyond the typical highway and public works accounts.

It’s being financed from funding sources that may not pass muster with deficit hawks, including repurposin­g untapped COVID19 relief aid and relying on projected future economic growth.

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