What's Inside $1Trln Infrastructure Bill Unveiled by US Senators Following Weeks of Discussion?
04:27 GMT 02.08.2021 (Updated: 04:30 GMT 02.08.2021)
© AFP 2021 / SAMUEL CORUMA US Capitol Police officer walks through the US Capitol Building on 1 August 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress is working to come to an agreement to pass President Biden's proposed infrastructure bill before they head into their August recess on the 9th.
The long-awaited (and long-delayed) infrastructure bill has come through dramatic bipartisan discussion, with Democrats pushing for over $3 trillion in spending under the legislation, and Republicans opposing it as too wasteful.
After weeks of heated and tense bipartisan cooperation, US Senators finally unveiled a $1 trillion infrastructure bill, rolling out the legislation of over 2,500 pages, named The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
The chief negotiators from the two parties, the GOP's Rob Portman and the Democrats' Kyrsten Sinema, hailed their work as beneficial for everyone.
“It takes our ageing and outdated infrastructure in this country and modernises it, and that’s good for everybody,” Portman said in his speech.
The two parties managed to settle on how to finance the bill, stepping away from the two initial propositions. The first one, promoted by the Democrats, envisaged increasing taxes on corporations and wealthy Americans, with the Republicans in response suggesting to levy fees on those who will be using the infrastructure. In the end, the parties agreed on combining different financing mechanisms, such as reallocating previous coronavirus aid funds and recollecting unpaid cryptocurrency taxes.
What's in the Bill?
The legislation envisages pouring money into the US roads, railways, bridges, pipes and virtually touches upon almost every part of the American economy.
In particular, the lawmakers call for the following spendings:
- $66 billion designated for a passenger railway system;
- $55 billion to improve the country's drinking water;
- $65 billion to enhance nation-wide broadband Internet access;
- $25 billion for potentially funding repairs at major airports;
- $73 billion is called for modernising the American energy grid;
- $21 billion for funding the response to environmental concerns, including pollution;
- $110 billion for roads and bridges;
- $39 billion for public transit.
© REUTERS / Kevin LamarqueU.S. President Joe Biden speaks following a bipartisan meeting with U.S. senators about the proposed framework for the infrastructure bill, at the White House in Washington, U.S., June 24, 2021.
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks following a bipartisan meeting with U.S. senators about the proposed framework for the infrastructure bill, at the White House in Washington, U.S., June 24, 2021.
What Are The Prospects?
While many lawmakers, including Democratic Senator Joe Manchin and Republican Senator Susan Collins, have voiced optimism about the fate of the massive infrastructure bill, some senators still air their concerns with regard to the legislation.
GOP Senator Rick Scott slammed “lofty and unrealistic revenue estimates” of the package, pointing to the possibility of the bill adding to the budget deficit due to its shaky math. His fellow Republican Senator Mike Lee expressed concerns that the package is too wasteful.
“There are a number of Americans who see all is not well with the way we spend money, the people’s money, within the American government,” he said, as cited by The Washington Post.
Now that the lawmakers from both parties have managed to come to an agreement on the $1 trillion bill, the debates are expected to be finished by the end of the week.
Then, the senators are expected to begin work on a more ambitious legislation that was initially sought by the Democrats, including President Joe Biden himself, envisaging over $3 trillion in spending and touching upon spheres like child care, health care, and tax breaks.
This proposition sparked ire among the Republicans, who blasted it as unnecessary spending. The vote on that measure, however, is not expected until after Congress comes back from the summer recess.
The $1 trillion infrastructure bill is still to pass through the House of Representatives.