A 1.2 trillion dollar bipartisan infrastructure plan supported by President Joe Biden could hit the Senate floor within weeks. In an email to Politico, a White House official said that Senate Majority Leader and Democrat Chuck Schumer would like to begin the process of approving the infrastructure and budget resolution plans in the upcoming July or August Senate session.
“Our understanding is that the process could begin as early as the week of 7/19, given that committees are still finalizing legislative text for both the budget resolution and the bipartisan bill… We of course support going forward as fast as possible, but it would be a mistake to think of July 19 as anything more than the opening of a window,” the email said.
The Senate is currently in the middle of a two-week recess that began on July 4, with an expected return date of July 19. Although Schumer has announced that he plans on pushing forward both the infrastructure and budget resolution bills, he has not indicated the order in which he will introduce them to the Senate floor. There are disagreements between Republicans and Democrats with regard to the budget resolution.
A budget resolution sets the initial parameters for what can be passed through budget reconciliation, whereas budget reconciliation is a parliamentary procedure set up to expedite the passage of certain pieces of budgetary legislation in the U.S. Senate. Reconciliation overrides the need for a 60-vote supermajority for passing bills, with only a simple majority of 51 votes needed.
On June 24, President Biden announced his support for the 1.2 trillion dollar bipartisan infrastructure bill. Biden later changed his position, saying that he would only sign the bill if the senators approved his 2.3 trillion dollar American Jobs Plan and 1.8 trillion dollar American Families Plan as part of a separate budget reconciliation process.
Combined, these two plans would require 4.1 trillion dollars in government spending. Biden expects the bills to be voted on before the end of the fiscal year. “If only one comes to me, I’m not signing it. It’s in tandem,” Biden said to reporters.
Biden’s change in stance occured after House Speaker Democrat Nancy Pelosi said during a news conference that “there ain’t gonna be no bipartisan bill unless we have a reconciliation bill.”
Senate Minority Leader and Republican Mitch McConnell criticized Biden’s actions and objected to linking the bills together. On the Senate floor, McConnell said that the president was being pressured by those “on the left” to deliver “a laundry list of radical climate demands.” The reconciliation bill includes spending geared towards climate change efforts.
The bill also contains a program called the “HOMES Act,” which empowers the federal government to change local demographics. The act would affect purple districts, areas where Democratic and Republican candidates both receive strong support, but neither with an overwhelming majority.
“Less than two hours after publicly commending our colleagues and actually endorsing the bipartisan agreement, the president took the extraordinary step of threatening to veto it. It was a tale of two press conferences… It almost makes your head spin… An expression of bipartisanship and then an ultimatum on behalf of your left-wing base,” McConnell said in a statement.
The infrastructure bill has garnered widespread support. On June 6th, it was formally endorsed by the Problem Solvers Caucus, encouraging “an expeditious, stand-alone vote in the House.” The caucus consists of 58 members from Congress, evenly split between Republicans and Democrats.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), and several other trade groups representing retailers and manufacturers, have formed a new group called the “Coalition for Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment” to push forward the infrastructure bill. “Don’t let partisan differences get in the way of action – pass significant, meaningful infrastructure legislation now,” the coalition said, as reported by the Associated Press.
According to a Fact Sheet released by the White House on June 24, the bipartisan infrastructure bill will have total spending of 973 billion dollars over five years and 1.209 trillion dollars over 8 years. It includes 579 billion dollars in additional federal spending. The bipartisan infrastructure bill is aimed at:
- Modernizing and expanding transit and rail networks across the United States.
- Repairing and rebuilding roads and bridges.
- Establishing a national network of electric vehicle chargers along highways and rural communities. The plan seeks to fulfill Biden’s goal of setting up 500,000 chargers across the country.
- Eliminating lead service lines and pipes, while also delivering clean drinking water to 400,000 schools and ten million American families.
- Electrifying thousands of school and transit buses to “reduce harmful emissions.”
- Upgrading America’s power infrastructure. Thousands of miles of new transmission lines will be built.
- Connecting every citizen to reliable high-speed internet networks.
- Addressing legacy pollution, which refers to contaminants that have been left in the environment by sources that no longer discharge them.
- Preparing U.S. infrastructure for extreme weather events, climate change, and cyber-attacks.
“The Framework, which will generate significant economic benefits and returns, is financed through a combination of closing the tax gap, redirecting unspent emergency relief funds, targeted corporate user fees, and the macroeconomic impact of infrastructure investment,” according to the Fact Sheet.