The U.S. Senate voted 69-30 to advance a roughly $1 trillion infrastructure package on Tuesday, heralding both a long-sought compromise and a victory for President Joe Biden, who campaigned as the architect who could rebuild a bipartisan Washington.
Both Sens. John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., voted in favor of the bill.
The package, which still needs approval in the Democratic House, would mean an extraordinary influx of capital into American public works. Cramer's office said in a statement that the bill will bring more than $2 billion in road and highway funding to North Dakota, as well as $200 million "for clean water."
"America’s infrastructure is a worthwhile investment we can’t afford to ignore," Cramer said. "The bill we passed today will provide over $2 billion to North Dakota for its roads, bridges, rail, broadband, carbon capture efforts, and orphaned wells cleanup projects, all while making meaningful permitting reforms and reducing bureaucratic hurdles."
And Cramer, in his statement following the vote, pointed out this package uses unspent COVID relief money, and argued that the package will help create jobs.
"It pays people to work instead of giving them handouts to stay home," he said, "and it includes smart reforms so taxpayer dollars are used more efficiently and unspent COVID-19 relief funds are repurposed for productive activity."
Hoeven has previously been warm to the idea of an infrastructure bill — so long as he has confidence it's paid for responsibly. Following Tuesday's vote, he released a statement praising the bill and explaining his comfort with the bill's finances.
"The legislation includes responsible pay-fors, including repurposing COVID relief dollars and importantly it does not raise taxes," he said.
Minnesota’s Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, both Democrats, supported the bill; South Dakota’s Sen. John Thune voted against, and his colleague Mike Rounds did not cast a vote (both are Republicans).
The next political hurdle for Congress will be the upcoming budget bill — a massive $3.5 trillion package that, despite Tuesday's moment of comity, is expected to win no GOP votes at all.
Rules on budgetary legislation will help Democrats avoid the threat of a Republican filibuster. That will almost certainly be necessary, given its chilly reception from leading Republicans.
Hoeven, in his statement on the infrastructure package, argued that Tuesday's spending vote could narrow the political path forward for Democrats' larger spending ambitions.
"I also believe passing this bipartisan traditional infrastructure bill will make it harder for Democrats to pass their $3.5 trillion tax-and-spend bill, which I strongly oppose," he said.
The broad bipartisan support for the infrastructure infrastructure bill — which won the support of 19 Republican senators — has represented a unique moment in the country's recent history, which has much more often been dominated by party-line confrontations on healthcare, taxes and more.
But UND political science professor Mark Jendrysik joked that the bill was "stuffed with enough pork" to make it a far easier sell to skeptics.
"There's something for everybody in this bill," he said. "So you can oppose it on ideological grounds, but you should probably support it on purely pragmatic grounds to be able to go home to your state and say 'I supported this bill.'"