By Sahil Kapur, Frank Thorp V and Julie Tsirkin – NBC News
WASHINGTON – A major infrastructure package passed a key vote Wednesday in the Senate, just hours after a bipartisan task force announced a deal after more than a month of negotiations.
The Senate voted 67 in favor to 32 against to begin debate on the measure in plenary, getting 17 Republicans to sign it, more than the 10 needed to avoid obstruction.
The proposal includes $ 550 billion to build roads, public transportation and other priorities from the president, Joe Biden, injecting a considerable sum of resources into a series of transportation projects that have long had the support of both parties.
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“This is very important,” Senate Democratic leader Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, told NBC News.
Final approval is not yet assured, but Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, has said senators can work through the weekend to finish it.
“The biggest investment in a generation”
“We are proud to announce that we have reached a bipartisan agreement on our proposal to carry out the largest investment in critical infrastructure in a generation. Our plan will create good-paying jobs in communities across the country without raising taxes,” he wrote in a statement from the group of 21 senators, led by Arizona Democrat Kyrsten Sinema and Ohio Republican Rob Portman.
Portman and other Republicans announced in an earlier agreement to meet with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who voted in favor of the proposal.
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The pact between the two parties is achieved after they managed to resolve issues such as the distribution of money between highways and public transport, among others.
The 17 Republicans who joined the 50 Democrats were Portman, McConnell; Roy Blunt for Missouri, Richard Burr for North Carolina, Shelly Moore Capito for West Virginia, Bill Cassidy for Louisiana, Susan Collins for Maine, Kevin Cramer for North Dakota, Mike Crapo for Idaho, Lindsey Graham for South Carolina, Chuck Grassley for Iowa, John Hoeven for North Dakota, Lisa Murkowski for Alaska, James Risch for Idaho, Mitt Romney for Utah, Thom Tillis for North Carolina and Todd Young for Indiana.