Infrastructure Weekend: Senate Set for Key Vote, Despite Crypto Clash

Infrastructure Weekend: Senate Set for Key Vote, Despite Crypto Clash


The Senate is on the verge of handing President Joe Biden a major victory by passing a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill.

“It’s a bill that would end years of gridlock in Washington and create millions of good-paying jobs, put America on a new path to win the race for the economy in the 21st century,” Biden said Friday.

After weeks of negotiations and wrangling — and some last-minute hold-ups — Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Thursday set up a critical procedural vote on the package for Saturday. Efforts to speed the bill to passage Thursday collapsed as senators worked on amendments and freshman Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-TN) refused to expedite the process.

Hagerty said he objected because of a Congressional Budget Office score of the bill showing that it will add $256 billion to deficits over the next 10 years. “While we’ve heard for weeks that [the infrastructure bill] would be paid for, it’s not,” Hagerty said in a statement, adding that he was especially concerned that Democrats were looking to pass this bill so they could move on to a $3.5 trillion budget resolution, which he called a “tax-and-spend spree.”

But the CBO score did not appear to significantly weaken the support from other Republicans, leaving the package on track to pass eventually.

A clash over cryptocurrency rules: The $550 billion in new spending in the infrastructure bill is financed in part by new IRS reporting requirements for cryptocurrency brokers, which are expected to raise $28 billion over 10 years. But Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) and others have sought to narrow who would be subject to the new reporting requirement, warning that the text as written could have a “chilling effect” on the development of crypto mining and software.

An amendment being pushed by Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Sens. Toomey and Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) would reportedly limit how the new rules would be applied, but the White House pushed back on the proposal, saying Thursday that it prefers a competing amendment from Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH), Mark Warner (D-VA) and others. That measure would exempt more players in the cryptocurrency world from the reporting requirement, but still isn’t as broad as the proposal from Wyden, Toomey and Lummis. For more details on the differences in the dueling plans and the issues involved, see The Washington Post or CNBC.

The bottom line: The Saturday vote will require 60 votes to advance, meaning that at least 10 Republicans will need to support it. Senators could still push for additional amendments, which would extend debate. But if the bill can avoid a filibuster, it will be headed for passage, with a final vote coming as early as Saturday afternoon or potentially being pushed into next week.