United States

U.S. Senate to try to finish $1 trillion infrastructure bill on Saturday

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The U.S. Capitol Building is pictured in Washington, U.S., August 1, 2021. REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz/File Photo

WASHINGTON, Aug 5 (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate, unable to finalize a $1 trillion infrastructure bill on Thursday, will try again on Saturday when it is scheduled to hold a vote on limiting debate and moving toward passage of the hard-fought legislation.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer struggled throughout the day to reach closure on a bipartisan bill that would trigger new construction projects throughout the United States to expand or refurbish roads, highways, bridges, airports and other public works, many of them in substandard condition.

Following hours of closed-door negotiations, senators failed to reach an agreement on remaining amendments to the bill, beyond the nearly two dozen already debated this week.

"We have been trying to vote on amendments all day but have encountered numerous objections from the other side," Schumer said, referring to Republicans.

Action on the legislation, which Democratic President Joe Biden supports, was held up by a flurry of demands from various senators, including a controversial move by some Republicans demanding billions of dollars in new Defense Department improvements, according to lawmakers.

A separate disagreement over a cryptocurrency provision in the infrastructure bill also was simmering.

Once the infrastructure bill is voted upon, the Senate was expected to begin work on a budget framework that Democrats hope would pave the way for a $3.5 trillion "human infrastructure" bill later this year.

The measures must also pass the House of Representatives, where Democrats have a thin majority.

Some senior House Democrats, including Representative Peter DeFazio, chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, have expressed concern that the $1 trillion bill lacks sufficient climate measures.

Earlier on Thursday, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office said the legislation would increase federal budget deficits by $256 billion over 10 years.

Lead negotiators on the bill disagreed, arguing the measure would be financed in a way so as not to incur deficit-spending.

The sweeping package of funding is one of Biden's top legislative priorities.

The CBO's analysis said the bill will increase Washington's revenue by $50 billion over the decade and increase discretionary spending by $415 billion.

It did not include $57 billion in added revenue that senators estimated Washington would collect over the long term from the economic growth benefits of the infrastructure projects.

It also did not count $53 billion in unused federal supplemental unemployment funds to be returned from states.

The Senate is trying to wrap up work ahead of a scheduled five-week summer recess which is supposed to start next week. The House has already begun its summer recess.

Reporting by Richard Cowan, David Lawder, David Morgan, Susan Cornwell and Makini Brice; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall, Daniel Wallis, Grant McCool and Kim Coghill

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