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Senate approves short-term extension of transportation programs

WASHINGTON – The Senate approved a short-term extension to transportation programs on Saturday, sending President Biden interim legislation after the House again delayed voting on an estimated $ 1,000 billion infrastructure bill .

The 30-day extension to transportation programs effectively creates a new deadline for Democrats to resolve the divisions that delayed the $ 1,000 billion infrastructure bill in the House. Mr Biden on Friday called on House Democrats not to approve the public works legislation, which was passed by the Senate this summer with broad bipartisan support, until the party unites to first around a broader social and climate policy proposal.

The House’s failure to pass the infrastructure bill by Oct. 1 resulted in a halt in the authorization of federal transportation programs, temporarily putting about 3,700 Department of Transportation employees on leave. The short-term fix, which the House passed on Friday in place of the infrastructure bill, temporarily re-authorizes those programs. The Senate unanimously approved the measure on Saturday afternoon.

For Democrats, the link between the infrastructure bill and the social and climate policy effort is the result of a demand from progressives in the party, who see the threat of blocking the infrastructure bill as a means of putting pressure on the centrists so that they ultimately support social policy and the climate. wrap. The centrists, including the senses. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D., Arizona), have expressed concerns about the scale of the health care, education and climate bill and the increases in taxes proposed to pay this.

Mr Biden and other leading Democrats rushed this week to negotiate a deal with centrists on social policy and the climate bill and, in turn, allay progressive concerns over the passage of the bill on infrastructure. Those efforts were unsuccessful on Friday, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) Again delayed a vote on the infrastructure bill.

“Obviously, the bipartisan infrastructure bill will be passed once we get agreement” on the social policy and climate bill, Pelosi wrote to House Democrats on Friday.

The delay in passing the infrastructure bill in the House has frustrated centrist Democrats, whose support will be essential for Democrats to pass the social policy and climate bill with their very narrow majorities in Congress. . Democrats had offered to spend $ 3.5 trillion on the larger bill, although Mr Biden told House Democrats on Friday that revenue would likely reach around $ 2 trillion after negotiations with the centrists.

Ms Sinema, who wields major influence over the 50-50 Senate negotiations, called the delayed vote “deeply disappointing” in a statement on Saturday. She said the move had shaken Democrats’ confidence in the ongoing political negotiations.

“Canceling the infrastructure vote further erodes that trust,” she said.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement on Saturday that Mr. Biden walked away from Friday’s talks “with the firm belief that there was a common commitment by the entire Democratic caucus to act for the American people “.

Write to Andrew Duehren at [email protected]

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