Senators and Biden felt that the 'world was watching.'

When President Joe Biden first announced the framework he'd reached with a bipartisan group of senators for a big infrastructure bill, he said it meant more than building roads and bridges.

Senators and Biden felt that the 'world was watching.'

Agreement, he said two months ago, would send a signal "to ourselves and to the world that American democracy can deliver."

The Senate senators who helped bring the legislation to passage Tuesday reached an agreement.

Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont) stated, "We all knew that, quite honestly that the world was watching,"

Approved on an overwhelming 69-30 vote, the nearly $1 trillion package would boost federal spending for major improvements of roads, bridges, internet access and other public works in communities from coast to coast. Next, the House will consider the bill.

This should have been an easy task. Biden, a former senator, recalled infrastructure being "probably the easiest thing to do" in his time as a senator. It became a demonstration of how badly the legislative process was in partisan Washington. And how determined a president and a core group senators were to fix it.

Powering past skeptics, the five Democratic and five Republican senators who negotiated the deal were interested in Biden's call to "build back better" after so many failed attempts at an infrastructure overhaul. They also wanted to restore confidence in America and the rest of the world that the U.S. government can tackle large problems.

After a long day at Capitol, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said that she realized this was going be important for the country. "I am really concerned that everyone believes we are as dysfunctional and as corrupt as we seem to be. This proves otherwise, it's kinda important."

Since Biden's election, small groups have been meeting and talking quietly with each other and sometimes with the White House to find ways to reach out across the aisle on a variety of issues, including the minimum wage, immigration, and infrastructure.

Many of those who were part of the bipartisan coalition that put together COVID-19 relief for the year ended saw an opportunity to compromise in the 50-50 Senate. Typically, 60 votes are required to pass any legislation.

Senator Joe Manchin, a Democratic senator from West Virginia, and Murkowski hosted lunches for senators in a private room. Others hosted dinners in their homes.

These were the early days of the Biden administration, not long after rioters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 in the deadly insurrection that shattered civic norms and left a deepening unease among lawmakers.

Biden had given an inaugural address in which he called for unity following the chaotic 2020 election. Some Republican senators had also voted to convict Trump of inciting the uprising to overthrow Biden's presidency. In the end, the former president was acquitted at his impeachment trial.

Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine stated that these issues and the history of unsuccessful investments in infrastructure were top of her mind when she joined the effort.

Collins stated that "it was a major motivator for me" to show the American people that Washington could transcend hyperpartisanship on an important issue that both administrations have been demanding for 20 years.

Biden had been in negotiations with a coalition headed by West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito. But when that effort failed, he reached out and contacted Sen. Kyrsten Silena, a Democratic senator from Arizona.

A newer lawmaker, better known for her purple pandemic wig and chatting on the GOP side of the Senate aisle, Sinema made no secret of her reluctance to embrace Biden's big infrastructure plan, which initially topped $4 trillion.

She was already working behind-the scenes with Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and others were part of what Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), described as a "backburner coalition". They were the group of 10.

The White House quickly reacted and engaged in hundreds of phone calls and meetings with legislators from both the House and Senate. The White House coordinated the visits of members of President's "Jobs Cabinet" and counselor Steve Ricchetti became an iconic figure on Capitol Hill.

Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg stated in an interview that "if there was a special sauce, it would be relationships."

He was very engaged and kept the president informed about the talks multiple times per day. He was a good communicator.

Buttigieg stated that Biden was "able to establish a tone."

Trump, just like other presidents, tried to put together an infrastructure package while he was at the White House. However, he often sent mixed signals and frustrated lawmakers by promising to withdraw support for items he had already committed to. Collins stated that senators knew when Biden sent top aides to meet with senators that they had the president's proxy. "That made all the difference."

The group ordered pizza and drank bottles of wine as they waited for the final weeks of negotiations to move to Portman's basement at the Capitol. The tension rose, frustration grew and exhaustion set in.

Mark Warner, a Democratic Senator from Virginia, stated that "we didn't completely throw pizza." There were times when people get mad at each other.

Biden suggested that he wouldn't sign the deal into law until he had his $3.5 trillion package along with it at a news conference. This angered Republicans who are staunchly opposed to the bill.

Collins was at the airport waiting for her flight home to Maine, when she saw the headline. She immediately called Biden's top team for clarification.

Tester was dumbfounded as he sat on his tractor in Montana.

Two days later, Biden sent a long statement to the group assuring them that he would fight both bills and get negotiations back on track.

After Tuesday's overwhelming vote, the president called Majority leader Chuck Schumer and all 10 senators individually, and reached Sinema in Senate cloakroom.

"They sent me an email. "They sent me a note. It stated, Biden on three for your'. Sinema said to The Associated Press that she literally didn't understand what that meant.

She said that he had said congratulations, and they spent time discussing how important the victory was for infrastructure work but also to show that bipartisanship is still alive so Congress can function.

"And then, we discussed continuing to work together in getting this bill across to his desk."

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