US Senator Marco Rubio was left seething after a mistake he made in an amendment to a water infrastructure bill resulted in its rejection on the Senate floor.
Mr Rubio apparently added an extra zero to an amendment, changing a figure from .025 to .0025. The typo was not caught until the bill was brought to the floor on Thursday.
The Senator asked to have the typo amended, but Sen. Tom Carper said it was too late to amend the bill, which set Mr Rubio off.
“I just want everybody to be clear, we’re not changing the formula, there’s an extra zero. It is literally a typo, the kind of typos people make every single day in the Senate. Instead of saying .025 it says .0025. Everyone knows what it was intended to do, that’s the way we’ve talked about it,” Mr Rubio said.
He then complained that the polarisation in the Senate had reached a point where even a typo could not be fixed.
“The Senate is now a place where you cannot amend a typo through unanimous consent. That’s unbelievable, it is unreal. I frankly find it unacceptable,” he said.
Mr Rubio’s complaints come after more than a decade of concerted efforts by Senate Republicans to derail and obstruct legislation passed or supported by Democrats.
The senator’s amendment would have changed the way funding is calculated for states seeking sewer upgrades. According to Mr Rubio, the change would have sent more funding to states with expanding populations, like Texas and Florida, which Rubio represents. He claimed the change would benefit 35 states in all.
However, opponents of the amendment claimed it would derail the bill’s provisions meant to bolster environmental justice, primarily equity of funding distribution among the states.
The bipartisan Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act of 2021 was passed by the Senate Thursday with a vote of 89-2.
US Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, of Texas and Utah, respectively, were the only no votes.
If the bill is cleared through the House of Representatives, it will allocate $35bn toward state water infrastructure programs, and it provides for gradual increases in in funding for those systems between 2022 and 2026.
The bill also nearly doubles the funding for grants meant to remove lead from drinking water, increasing allocations from $60m to $100m per year.
That effort is part of Joe Biden’s promise to replace all lead-lined drinking water pipes in the nation. Lead leeched from pipes can have ruinous effects on the population, especially toward children.
The bill also includes environmental justice provisions that would require the Environmental Protection Agency to review the way funds have been distributed that were intended for poor and minority communities under the Safe Drinking Water Act and Clean Water Act.