US Senate moves forward with $1 trillion tr . bipartisan infrastructure bill

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A bipartisan infrastructure investment bill of about $1 trillion introduced on Wednesday in the US Senate is a major milestone moving emerging legislation toward formal debate and possible approval.

The Senate voted 67 to 32 to take the first procedural step towards a debate on the measure that has the support of Democratic President Joe Biden.

The two-party deal, which follows months of negotiations, gained the support of all 48 Democrats, two Independents and 17 Republicans in this first procedural vote.

Additional procedural votes and debate on the bill itself were expected, possibly over the weekend or after.

Democrats plan that the bill, which includes funding for roads, bridges, broadband and other physical infrastructure, will be the first of a few packages, followed by a sweeping $3.5 trillion “human infrastructure” package that faces fervent Republican opposition and some dissent among moderate Democrats.

Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema and Republican Senator Rob Portman, the Senate’s two lead negotiators, announced the agreement separately to reporters on Wednesday.

Republicans blocked a similar move last week, saying no details had been recorded. In the latest bill, details on transit and broadband were still being finalized, but lawmakers said the bill would be finalized soon.

“We are delighted to have a deal,” Sinema said. “We’ve got most of the text ready, so we’ll release it and then we’ll update it when we get those final bits out.”

The deal includes $110 billion for roads, $73 billion for power grid spending, $66 billion for railroads, $65 billion to expand broadband access, $55 billion for clean drinking water, $50 billion for eco-friendliness, $39 billion for public transportation and $25 billion for airports, the White House said.

Responding to a funding concern from Republican lawmakers, including Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, Portman said the package is “more than paid” and added: “We look forward to moving forward and having a healthy debate.” to feed.”

Officials said the package would be funded through a combination of measures. The biggest was the diversion of $205 billion in COVID-19 relief funds. Another was recovering $50 billion in fraudulently paid unemployment benefits during the pandemic and getting states to return unused federal unemployment funds, raising another $50 billion.

Democratic Senator Ron Wyden said he was investigating whether COVID-19 spending on hospital and nursing home providers is being tapped as hospitalizations of the highly contagious Delta strain are increasing. “I’m gathering facts,” he said.

Biden’s diary

The bipartisan bill is an important part of Biden’s larger domestic policy agenda. Democratic leaders plan to move forward with a sweeping $3.5 trillion reconciliation package. Republicans have vowed to oppose that effort, and Sinema appeared lukewarm in comments to her state’s Arizona Republic newspaper on Wednesday.

The bipartisan bill will propose $550 billion in new spending, according to a White House factsheet, up from $579 billion in a framework the negotiators outlined a few weeks ago.

(REUTERS)