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The latest Montana politics, elections and Legislature news.

Montana’s Senators Divided On Federal Infrastructure Proposal

Sen. Jon Tester and Sen. Steve Daines
Sen. Jon Tester and Sen. Steve Daines

A trillion-dollar infrastructure package backed by Montana’s senior senator took a step forward Thursday. The deal has bipartisan support but still faces hurdles.

After a procedural vote, the infrastructure deal is headed to the Senate floor for debate.

The public works package aims to fund work on roads, bridges and water systems. It’s been linked by the Biden administration to a separate plan to spend trillions of dollars on social programs like childcare and family tax credits.

But Sen. Jon Tester says passing the first infrastructure bill is not contingent on passing the social services plan.

“We got a long ways to go with the reconciliation bill and I’m going to give it a fair shot. I think there’s plenty of needs out there, but it’s going to depend on how it’s paid for and how the money is spent,” he says.

However, NPR reports that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she won't advance the traditional infrastructure bill to the House floor until the Senate at least gets the ball rolling on the $3.5 trillion social plan.

Sen. Steve Daines has remained noncommittal on the traditional infrastructure bill developed by Tester and other senators, saying he wants to know how it will be paid for and whether it can be amended.

Spokesperson Katherine McKeogh says Daines views the second package offered by Senate Democrats as a “reckless tax and spend spree.”

The full text on either bill has yet to be released.