Biden signs bill ending 3,700 transportation workers’ leave
WASHINGTON – The Senate met briefly on Saturday to send a bill to President Biden reinstating major transportation programs that had expired two days earlier and bringing back nearly 4,000 workers on leave. A few hours later, Mr. Biden signed it.
The rare weekend session was necessary because Congress failed to address expiring transportation programs when it passed legislation Thursday to avoid a government shutdown. These reauthorizations had been included in a $ 1,000 billion bipartisan infrastructure bill that was due to be voted on the same day but was never raised amid deep divisions among Democrats in Congress over the measure.
Senators unanimously approved a motion by Oregon Democrat Senator Ron Wyden and finance committee chairman to extend expiring transportation programs by 30 days and end holidays for 3,700 workers. The provisional bill, which the House adopted on Friday by 365 votes to 51, extends the programs until October 31.
Saturday’s vote wrapped up an intense week on Capitol Hill, where Democrats tried unsuccessfully to push forward a major piece of Mr. Biden’s agenda. The nearly 100-member progressive congressional caucus blocked a vote on the $ 1 trillion infrastructure bill in the House, seeking passage of a domestic policy bill $ 3.5 trillion larger than Mr. Biden, President Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and Majority Leader had assured the caucus would move forward in a “two-track process With the bill on infrastructure.
The progressives’ stance forced Ms Pelosi to delay the planned vote on the infrastructure bill and ultimately prompted Mr Biden to side with them by saying there could be no vote on this bill. until an agreement on social policy and much broader climate measurement has been reached.
In a letter to lawmakers on Saturday, Ms Pelosi called for passage of the infrastructure bill by the end of the month and signaled that Democratic leaders were continuing to negotiate the broader social policy bill and the climate with Senators Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Kyrsten. Sinema of Arizona, two recalcitrant Democrats who are the key decisive votes needed to pass legislation in the Senate.
“Once again, we will and must pass both bills soon,” Ms. Pelosi wrote. “We have the responsibility and the opportunity to do it. “
Ms. Sinema issued a statement on Saturday condemning the postponement of the infrastructure vote, calling it a “failure” and “deeply disappointing for communities in our country.”
“Denying Americans millions of well-paying jobs, safer roads, cleaner water, more reliable electricity and better broadband only hurts everyday families,” said Ms. Sinema. “The people of Arizona, and all ordinary Americans, expect their lawmakers to review the legislation in substance – rather than hampering new jobs and investment in critical infrastructure without any substantive reason. “