US Lawmakers Inch Closer To Major Infrastructure Deal

Monday, August 2nd 2021, 9:47 pm
By: Alex Cameron


Congress continues to move closer to passing a major bipartisan infrastructure package. Senators were in Washington all weekend finalizing the language on legislation that enjoys broad public support and is a key part of President Biden's economic agenda.

Democratic leaders in the Senate want to hustle the inches-thick bill across the finish line.

"I’d encourage Senators from both sides of the aisle to submit potential amendments to the bill," said Sen. Chuck Schumer, (D) Majority Leader, on the floor Monday morning.

Many Republican Senators, including Oklahoma's Lankford and Inhofe, have so far withheld judgment on the $1.2 trillion proposal, saying they would need to see the bill's actual language to know what it actually contains. They now have 2,702 pages of text to read.

"I believe our colleagues draft text provides a good and important jumping off point," said Sen. Mitch McConnell, (R) Minority Leader, "for what needs to be a robust and bipartisan process."

Included in the eight-year spending plan is $110 billion for roads and bridges, $66 billion for passenger rail, $39 billion for public transit, $55 billion for water and wastewater infrastructure, and $65 billion for broadband upgrades.

"Roads, bridges, waterways, airports," noted Sen. McConnell, "these things are not luxuries for the greatest nation and world history, they are necessities."

About the half of the package is new spending, to be paid for not through higher taxes, as some had proposed, but in part with unused COVID-19 relief funds. It also relies on future economic growth.

Assuming Democrats continue to have enough Republican support to pass it out of the Senate, the bigger question becomes, will House leadership tie it to the very partisan $3.5 trillion human infrastructure package that Democrats will try to pass through budget reconciliation, and which has zero GOP support.

Moderate Democrats involved in negotiating the infrastructure package clearly hope that's not the case.

"I’ve always believed that everything should rise or fall on its own merits," said Sen. Joe Manchin, (D) West Virginia.