US Senate passes $1tn bipartisan infrastructure bill – live | US news
A reporter asked Joe Biden to assess Andrew Cuomo’s decade-long career as governor, as he prepares to step down in the wake of 11 women accusing him of sexual harassment.
“In terms of his personal behavior or what he’s done as a governor?” Biden asked.
“What’s he done as a governor,” the reporter replied.
“I thought he’s done a hell of a job – and both on everything from access to voting to infrastructure to a whole range of things. That’s why it’s so sad,” Biden said.
President Biden tells @edokeefe his assessment of Andrew Cuomo’s tenure as governor of New York: “He’s done a hell of a job — on everything from access to voting to infrastructure to a whole range of things. That’s why it’s so sad.” https://t.co/ea8wIVnL34 pic.twitter.com/m3rcWFJ1xQ
August 10, 2021
Moments later, another reporter pressed Biden on whether Cuomo could have truly done “a hell of a job” as governor when he has been accused of sexually harassing nearly a dozen women and breaking laws in the process.
“You asked two different questions,” Biden said. The president underscored the importance of believing the women whose allegations were substantiated by the investigation conducted by the office of the New York attorney general.
“I was asked a specific question,” Biden said, adding that he was not generally attempting to separate Cuomo’s personal behavior from his gubernatorial record.
CNN’s @kaitlancollins to President Biden: “Can you really say that [Gov. Cuomo] has done ‘a hell of a job’ if he’s accused of sexually harassing women on the job?” pic.twitter.com/G6tjrhn2At
August 10, 2021
at 4.08pm EDT
Taking additional questions from reporters, Joe Biden said he was “very concerned” about the potential spread of coronavirus among children who are too young to get vaccinated.
“The reason children are becoming infected is because, in most cases, they live in low vaccination rate states and communities, and they’re getting it from unvaccinated adults. That’s what’s happening,” Biden said. “And so, my plea is to those who are not vaccinated: Think about it.”
Biden says he’s “very concerned” about children catching COVID and it’s “disingenuous” that governors accusing him of government overreach are threatening school officials who enforce protocols. He says he’s “checking” if he has power to intervene in states like Texas and Florida pic.twitter.com/vqQFRA7kD4
August 10, 2021
The president also argued that there is a logical inconsistency among Republican lawmakers who are criticizing his administration for alleged federal overreach by encouraging mask usage and simultaneously threatening to retaliate against schools that implement mask mandates.
“I find that totally counterintuitive and, quite frankly, disingenuous,” Biden said.
The president did not specifically name Ron DeSantis, but the comment appeared to be a direct rebuke of the Florida governor’s policies.
‘I respect the governor’s decision,’ Biden says of Cuomo resignation
Joe Biden is taking a few questions from reporters after wrapping up his prepared remarks on the Senate’s passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill.
And – no surprise here – the first question was about Biden’s response to Andrew Cuomo’s announcement that he will step down as governor of New York.
President Biden on Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) resignation:
“I respect the governor’s decision and I respect the decision he made.” pic.twitter.com/ikwcXplzHU
August 10, 2021
“I respect the governor’s decision, and I respect the decision he made,” Biden said.
The president had previously called on Cuomo to resign, after the New York attorney general’s office released a report saying the governor had sexually harassed at least 11 women and violated state and federal law in doing so.
at 4.08pm EDT
Joe Biden described the Senate’s passage of the infrastructure bill as proof that bipartisanship is still possible, even in today’s bitterly divided Washington.
“For the Republicans who supported this bill, you showed a lot of courage,” Biden said of the 19 Republican senators who voted “yes” on the infrastructure proposal.
“You have and no doubt you will disagree with me on many issues, but where we can agree, we should. And here on this bill, we proved that we can still come together to do big things, important things, for the American people.”
The president thanked Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell for supporting the bill, and he credited majority leader Chuck Schumer for his “masterful” handling of the legislation.
“Today, we proved that democracy can still work,” Biden said.
Biden celebrates Senate passage of infrastructure bill: ‘We’re on the cusp of an infrastructure decade’
Joe Biden celebrated the Senate’s passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill, thanking the 69 members of both parties who ensured the legislation’s advancement.
“After years and years of infrastructure week, we’re on the cusp of an infrastructure decade that I truly believe will transform America,” Biden said.
“After years and years of infrastructure week, we’re on the cusp of an infrastructure decade that I truly believe will transform America,” President Biden says after the Senate passed an infrastructure bill. pic.twitter.com/W4Ce5smERA
August 10, 2021
That line was, of course, a reference to the Trump administration repeatedly announcing “infrastructure week” but failing to ever actually sign any infrastructure bills.
The legislation still needs to pass the House before it reaches Biden’s desk, and the president emphasized the importance of giving final approval to the bill, which would invest $550bn in new federal funds for roads, bridges and other physical infrastructure projects.
About an hour and a half after the scheduled start time, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have arrived for their event to celebrate the Senate’s passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill.
The vice-president spoke first, saying the bill’s passage demonstrated the Biden administration’s commitment to working “on behalf of the American people”.
“Today, we move one step closer to making a once-in-a-generation investment in our nation’s infrastructure,” Harris said.
“It will mean people in our nation won’t have to drink water from lead pipes or go to a fast-food parking lot to get high-speed Internet.”
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will soon deliver remarks at the White House on the Senate’s passage of the $1.2tn bipartisan infrastructure bill earlier today.
Among the White House officials attending the event are Shalanda Young, the acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, and senior presidential adviser Steve Ricchetti, who helped negotiate the bipartisan agreement.
The event was scheduled to begin over an hour ago, but as is often the case with Biden, we are still waiting to start. Stay tuned.
Hugo Lowell reports for the Guardian on Senate Democrats’ latest effort to advance voting rights legislation:
Top Democrats in the Senate are poised to make another attempt to push through voting rights legislation before the chamber leaves Washington for a summer recess, in a sign of their determination to counter a wave of Republican-led ballot restrictions across the nation.
The Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer is expected to reintroduce Democrats’ marquee election reform bill known as the For the People Act, with additional votes on one measure to end partisan gerrymandering and another measure to tighten campaign spending, sources said.
None of the measures, for which Schumer hopes to schedule votes immediately after the Senate takes up the $3.5tn budget blueprint for infrastructure, is expected to garner any Republican support and will thus likely follow the demise of the For the People Act in June.
The move by Senate Democrats will encourage voting rights activists, who have watched with alarm that the issue appeared to have taken a back seat as protracted negotiations over the $1tn bipartisan infrastructure package consumed the Senate.
Yet in the face of united Republican opposition, the endgame for Democrats – even as they scramble to enact voting rights legislation to roll back a wave of GOP ballot restrictions in time for the 2022 midterm elections – remains unclear.
Now that the bipartisan infrastructure bill has passed the Senate, civil rights leaders are calling on Democrats to act with the same kind of urgency when it comes to voting rights.
“The White House must now prioritize voting rights legislation with the same level of urgency and commitment as the bipartisan infrastructure bill. Time is running out. The infrastructure of our own democracy, the heart and soul of America, is crumbling before our very eyes,” NAACP president Derrick Johnson said in a statement.
“We must protect the American people’s sacred right to vote by any means possible.”
Democrats’ two voting rights bills, the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, have stalled in the Senate because of a Republican filibuster.
Senate votes along party lines to begin debate on $3.5tn reconciliation bill
The Senate may have been able to pass the $1.2tn infrastructure bill in a bipartisan fashion, but the upper chamber quickly reverted back to its partisan ways once that vote was over.
In a 50-49 vote that fell along party lines, the Senate voted to start debate on Democrats’ $3.5tn reconciliation bill, which covers many of Joe Biden’s infrastructure initiatives not included in the bill passed today.
Agreed to, 50-49: Motion to proceed to Cal. #122, S.Con.Res.14, FY2022 Budget Resolution.
August 10, 2021
Vice-president Kamala Harris was in the Senate chamber in case she needed to cast a tie-breaking vote to start debate on the bill, but that was not necessary because Republican Mike Rounds was absent for the vote. (Rounds is at the Mayo Clinic with his wife as she receives cancer treatment.)
The vote-a-rama on the bill has now begun, with Republicans prepared to offer potentially hundreds of amendments to the spending package, forcing Democrats to take votes on everything from climate policy to abortion rights.
The vote-a-rama session could continue into the early hours of Wednesday morning, but ultimately Democrats do not need any Republican votes to advance the reconciliation bill.
Vote Update: the Senate will shortly proceed to up to 4 votes in relation to the following amendments to S.Con.Res.14, FY2022 Budget Resolution:
1. Barrasso #3055
2. Carper #3330
3. Thune #3106
4. Cortez Masto #3317
August 10, 2021
Florida’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, has threatened to take away teachers’ salaries in his state if they enforce the mandatory wearing of masks as children come back to school.
The Biden administration is “looking at options” to get around that situation if the governor carries out this threat, White House press sec Jen Psaki has indicated today.
Press Secretary Jen Psaki briefing the media at the White House today. Photograph: Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters
The state could defund the salaries of district superintendents and county school board members who mandate mask wearing in schools, according to a statement from DeSantis’ office yesterday, the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper reported.
Psaki said that federal funds distributed to cope with the coronavirus pandemic as a result of the American Rescue Plan signed into law by Joe Biden early in his administration included money for schools.
But she added that those funds had not been distributed in Florida by the state government. Without saying directly that the White House and the administration will look at ways of ensuring that funding gets to what she described as “eligible schools” she said: “We are looking at our options” in relation to efforts to ensure teachers do not have their pay cut if they enforce mask-wearing in the classroom to keep children safe from Covid-19.
Coronavirus is raging in Florida as a result of the Delta variant and children’s hospitals are under pressure.
‘This is a story about courageous woman’ – White House on Cuomo quitting
The first question to press sec Jen Psaki was, of course, about the announcement from New York’s three-term, Democratic governor Andrew Cuomo about an hour ago that he is resigning after a report by the state attorney general found he sexually harassed 11 women.
Andrew Cuomo announces he will resign. Photograph: AP
Joe Biden led the calls last week from the Democratic establishment for Cuomo to resign after NY attorney general Letitia James announced the findings of a five-month investigation.
Psaki said the US president had not spoken to Cuomo since then and the White House had not been given a heads-up that the governor was about to announce this morning – at around the exact time the Senate was passing the infrastructure bill, that he was stepping aside.
“This is a story about courageous woman who told their stories” after the investigation by the AG, she said.
Biden is expected to talk a little later about the infrastructure bill. Psaki has not said if he will address the Cuomo situation. But, of course if journalists get a chance to ask him about it they surely will.
Psaki said the administration looked forward to working with New York’s lieutenant governor Kathy Hochul, who will now step into Cuomo’s shoes and become the first woman to run the state.
I agree with Governor Cuomo’s decision to step down. It is the right thing to do and in the best interest of New Yorkers.
As someone who has served at all levels of government and is next in the line of succession, I am prepared to lead as New York State’s 57th Governor.
August 10, 2021
at 1.35pm EDT
White House press secretary Jen Psaki is now beginning her media briefing. She started by praising the passing of the infrastructure bill in the US Senate about an hour ago.
She said US president Joe Biden is paying attention to the bipartisan aspect of the bill, after 19 Republicans joined the entire Democratic caucus in the upper chamber to pass the $1tr bill.
But she pointed out that even more importantly, the administration believes the legislation will “deliver huge benefits” to people in the US, creating “millions of jobs”.
She added that the legislation was expected to benefit the environment and deliver clean drinking water and high speed internet to more Americans.
Today so far
Here’s where the day stands so far:
- Andrew Cuomo announced his resignation a week after the New York attorney general released a report saying the governor had sexually harassed at least 11 women. In a prepared statement today, Cuomo continued to defend his actions, but he said he now considered his resignation to be in the best interest of the state. “The best way I can help now is if I step aside and let government get back to governing. And therefore, that’s what I’ll do,” Cuomo said, noting the resignation will take effect in 14 days.
- The Senate passed the bipartisan infrastructure bill in a vote of 69 to 30. The legislation now heads to the House, where it may face resistance from some progressive lawmakers. Joe Biden, who has wholeheartedly endorsed the bill, will deliver remarks on the legislation’s Senate passage this afternoon.
- Dominion Voting Systems is suing two far-right news networks, One America News (OAN) and Newsmax, for spreading lies about fraud in the 2020 election. In its lawsuits, Dominion accused the networks of having “manufactured, endorsed, repeated, and broadcast a series of verifiably false yet devastating lies” that caused irreparable harm to the company. Dominion is seeking billions of dollars in damages to make up for lost profits and other costs incurred as the company has fought these election lies.
The blog will have more coming up, so stay tuned.
Cuomo resigns in wake of damning report on sexual harassment
The New York governor, Andrew Cuomo, has resigned following an investigation by the state attorney general that found he sexually harassed multiple women, most of whom worked for him, and also retaliated after some made complaints.
Delivering a prepared statement today, Cuomo continued to defend his actions, but he said he now considered his resignation to be in the best interest of New Yorkers and the state government.
“The best way I can help now is if I step aside and let government get back to governing. And therefore, that’s what I’ll do,” Cuomo said, noting the resignation will take effect in 14 days.
“The best way I can help now is if I step aside and let government get back to governing. And therefore, that’s what I’ll do,” New York Gov. Cuomo says. pic.twitter.com/Z1edfCJa3z
August 10, 2021
The Democratic governor had lost the support of the party establishment, with Joe Biden calling on Cuomo to resign and similar demands issued by House speaker Nancy Pelosi, both of New York’s US Senators – one of whom is Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer – two Democratic New York congressmen, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio and a host of Republicans in Washington DC.
Cuomo’s own No 2, the New York lieutenant governor, Kathy Hochul, had called his conduct “repulsive and unlawful”.
His political future was dangling by a thread amid moves to impeach the governor and force him from office by the New York legislative assembly in the state capital of Albany.
at 12.22pm EDT
Joe Biden will deliver remarks on the Senate’s passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill at 1:30 pm ET, the White House has just announced.
Kamala Harris, who presided over the Senate’s final vote on the bipartisan bill, is also expected to speak, according to the White House’s updated schedule for the day.
The president has already offered a full endorsement of the infrastructure bill, and he will likely call on the House to quickly pass it once members return from their recess next month. Stay tuned.
Nineteen Senate Republicans and all 50 Senate Democrats supported the final passage of the $1.2tn bipartisan infrastructure bill.
Here are the names of the 19 Republicans who voted “yes” on the bill, including Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell:
Frank Thorp V
Here are the 19 Republican Senators who voted YES on the bipartisan infrastructure bill:
August 10, 2021
Senate passes bipartisan infrastructure bill in 69-30 vote
Well, it is finally and truly infrastructure week: the Senate has officially passed the bipartisan infrastructure bill in a vote of 69 to 30. Vice-president Kamala Harris presided over the vote.
Minority leader Mitch McConnell was among the 19 Senate Republicans who joined Democrats to get the bill across the finish line. The legislation required a simple majority to pass the upper chamber.
Passed, 69-30: Cal. #100, H.R.3684, Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, as amended.
August 10, 2021
The bill now heads to the House, where it may face resistance from progressive lawmakers, some of whom have indicated they will not support the legislation without guarantees about the future passage of the $3.5tn reconciliation package.
Joe Biden has already indicated he wholeheartedly supports the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which would invest $550bn in new federal funds for roads, bridges and other physical infrastructure projects.
The president is expected to soon deliver some kind of official response to the bill’s passage, so stay tuned.
Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell has officially voted in favor of the bipartisan infrastructure bill, joining at least a dozen other Republican senators.
Other members of the Senate Republican leadership team, including John Cornyn and John Thune, have already voted against the bill.
The vote is still open, and the bill currently has 63 “yes” votes, which is more than enough to ensure its passage. Stay tuned.