Roughly $1 trillion proposal is a major part of President Biden’s agenda
The bill now awaits a vote in the House, where its fate is tied to the success of a separate budget reconciliation package that includes President Biden’s social policy and climate agenda.
Here’s what’s in the bipartisan agreement and what happens next.
What’s in a roads, bridges, transit and water agreement?
The bill includes $110 billion in funding for roads, bridges and major projects, as well as $39 billion to modernize and make public transportation accessible for the disabled and elderly. A significant portion of that money will go to major city transit systems, like New York City, based on federal funding formulas.
The deal also includes an investment of $66 billion in rail maintenance, modernization and expansion, much of which will go to Amtrak. This would replace Amtrak’s stated mission by focusing instead on “the needs of the United States’ intercity passenger rail,” or at least breaking even, something the system hasn’t done since its creation in 1971. The system is attempting a major overhaul to provide a reliable alternative to flying and driving only outside the Northeast Acela Corridor.
The legislation would provide $11 billion in funding for highway and pedestrian safety programs. A total of $7.5 billion will be used to implement the network of electric vehicle chargers, and another $7.5 billion will be used for zero-emission or low-emission buses and ferries. The new spending will boost ports and airports with $42 billion.
The group generally agreed to spend $50 billion to strengthen the country’s infrastructure against climate change and cyber attacks. Another $55 billion will go towards clean drinking water and $65 billion will go towards broadband infrastructure and development. The deal invests $21 billion to address pollution from soil and groundwater, create jobs in energy communities, and focus on economic and environmental justice. The legislation would include $73 billion to update and expand the electricity grid.
What about broadband internet service?
The broadband section of the bill would establish a grant program with nonprofits, public-private partnerships, private companies, utilities and local governments to expand access to areas eligible for project funding. It would also make a pandemic emergency benefit for Internet access permanent, although it would reduce the monthly subsidy for eligible households from $50 to $30, but would include $100 for equipment. According to the Federal Communications Commission, approximately four million households currently use emergency benefits.
How will it be paid?
The spending will be paid for with a variety of revenue streams, including more than $200 billion of repurchased funds originally intended for coronavirus relief, but left unused; A delay in Trump-era rule on Medicare exemptions would bring about $50 billion; And some states return $50 billion of unused unemployment insurance supplement funding. The senators said they expected about $30 billion to be generated from implementing information-reporting requirements for the cryptocurrency; About $60 billion will come from spending-driven economic growth; and $87 billion from past and future sales of the wireless spectrum space. Congress’s nonpartisan scorekeeper found that the infrastructure bill would increase the federal budget deficit by $256 billion over 10 years, countering claims from supporters that the price tag would be covered by new revenue and savings measures.
What about what Democrats call ‘human infrastructure’?
While the bipartisan agreement focuses on physical infrastructure such as roads, bridges and broadband, Democrats are pursuing a separate, $3.5 trillion proposal for what they describe as “human infrastructure,” including paid households. and medical leave, subsidized child care, an extension of coverage. Child tax credit, universal preschool and affordable housing for 3- and 4-year-olds. Democrats want to broaden Medicare benefits to cover dental, vision and hearing and aim to reduce carbon emissions in the economy by 50% by 2030.
Democrats don’t expect any GOP support for the human infrastructure law and plan to use budget maneuvering to pass that law in the Senate, with only 50 Democratic votes and Vice President Kamala Harris split evenly. Breaking the tie in the Senate.
At the moment, not every Democrat is on board with that level of spending and negotiations on spending and tax provisions are ongoing. Arizona Sen. Kirsten Cinema said she would oppose the $3.5 trillion bill. West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, another Democratic centrist, has also expressed concern over the cost of the law and its many provisions.