U.S. Senators Unveil Billion-Dollar Infrastructure Bill

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Vehicles are parked outside the United States Capitol in Washington, DC on July 31. Photo: REUTERS

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Vehicles are parked outside the United States Capitol in Washington, DC on July 31. Photo: REUTERS

U.S. Senators have presented a sweeping, bipartisan, $ 1,000 billion plan to invest in roads, bridges, ports, high-speed internet and other infrastructure, with some predicting the chamber could pass the largest this week. public works legislation for decades.

The massive infrastructure package, a goal that has eluded Congress for years, is a top legislative priority for Democratic President Joe Biden, who touted it on Sunday as the biggest such investment in a century.

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Senators said the 2,702-page bill included $ 550 billion in new spending over five years for items such as roads, railroads, electric vehicle charging stations and replacement of gas lines. lead water, in addition to the $ 450 billion in previously approved funds.

“I think we can deal with the relevant amendments quickly and pass this bill within days,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, said of the legislation after it was announced by a bipartisan group of senators.

“This is a very important bill because it takes our large, aging and obsolete infrastructure in this country and modernizes it. It is good for everyone,” said Sen. Rob Portman, the senior Republican negotiator.

However, some Republicans criticized the bill as too expensive. “I have real concerns with this bill,” Republican Senator Mike Lee said in a speech on the ground. “All is not well with the way we spend money.”

It was not yet clear whether senators outside the bipartisan group that negotiated the bill will propose amendments that could eventually upend the delicate coalition that has been cobbled together.

If the bill passes the Senate, it must be considered by the House of Representatives, where some Democrats have called it too small and the Democratic leadership has linked it to a $ 3.5 trillion bill. on “human infrastructure” to spend money on education, child care, climate change and other priorities.

Democrats want to offset social spending with tax hikes on businesses and wealthy Americans earning more than $ 400,000 a year, measures Republicans oppose, leaving the fate of the two bills unresolved.

Sunday night’s developments ended months of negotiations and internal struggles between several groups of senators and the White House.

Initially, Biden said he was looking for roughly $ 2 trillion in a bipartisan bill, an amount Republicans dismissed as unnecessary and unnecessary.

A group of Republican senators then worked on a plan to spend much less, an effort that ultimately came to fruition, raising questions about whether Congress could strike a deal allowing the Democratic president to keep his January 20 nomination pledge. to work in cooperation with the Republicans.

A bipartisan group of senators, led by Arizona Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, a moderate, and conservative Portman worked for months, adding input from House centrists, on a new plan closer to what Biden would agree to .

At the end of June, the group said it had reached a deal worth $ 1.2 trillion, but filling out the details took more than a month.

Spurred on by Schumer and Biden, negotiators put their staff to work, almost around the clock, to come up with Sunday’s final deal.


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