• November 28, 2021

Senate Democrats rush a $ 1.2 trillion infrastructure package after the Republican Party helps them overcome the obstructionist hurdle

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer is rushing to push a $ 1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package through the Senate before lawmakers leave for the August recess, speeding up the process after that Republicans helped break down the obstructionist barrier.

Schumer, D-New York, said lawmakers should be prepared to stay in Washington for the weekend to work on the bill before leaving for a month-long summer vacation starting Monday.

“My goal has been to pass both the bipartisan infrastructure bill and a budget resolution during this work period,” he said. “Some experts have said that this is a difficult task. I understand that. “

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, is pushing for senators to have enough time to review the package and offer amendments.

Democrats can hurry now as the legislation, which is currently just a frame, on Wednesday cleared the 60-vote threshold to survive in the chamber. The infrastructure deal moved forward with 17 Republicans joining the 50 Democrats.

The vote was a huge victory for President Biden, who built on his ability to work across the aisle and is now set to deliver $ 1.2 trillion in infrastructure projects.

Former President Donald Trump’s bid for an infrastructure deal never got off the ground with Senate Democrats.

“We showed all those people who said: ‘Congress is broken, the process does not work. You can’t bridge the partisan divide, ‘”said Senator Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat from New Hampshire who helped negotiate the bipartisan settlement. “That, in fact, we can do something.”

Schumer’s need for speed is driven by the calendar. Without making significant progress on the deal in the next two weeks, Schumer must choose between canceling part of the summer recess or delaying the debate until Congress returns in September.

The latter is problematic because when lawmakers return, they must pass annual spending bills to keep government open after the Sept. 30 deadline.

To complicate matters, Democratic leaders have linked the infrastructure package to a $ 3.5 trillion welfare bill.

The largest legislation, which is packed with liberal priorities, will pass without Republican votes in a process known as budget reconciliation. It allows some spending and tax measures to avoid the 60-vote threshold necessary to overcome an obstructionism and pass with 51 votes. To be successful, Schumer needs all 50 Senate Democrats to be unified and Vice President Kamala Harris to cast the tiebreaker vote.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, has vowed not to move the bipartisan infrastructure deal before reconciliation.

Republican support during Wednesday’s crucial test vote was made possible because the infrastructure is limited in size and scope.

The entire deal is scheduled to spend $ 1.2 trillion over the next decade, with approximately $ 550 billion coming from new revenue.

The package includes provisions demanded by both Democrats and Republicans, including money for Amtrak, road construction, airport improvements and expanded broadband Internet service.

As written, the infrastructure package also includes important provisions on climate change. The inclusions were made to pacify far-left Democrats, who threatened to withdraw support for the deal in another way. For example, the bill proposes spending:

• $ 73 billion to remove fossil fuels, such as coal and natural gas, from the electrical grid.

• $ 7.5 billion to install electric vehicle charging stations nationwide. At least $ 5 million is also allocated for education districts to transition to electric school buses.

• $ 21 billion to eliminate soil and groundwater contamination. Money will also be allocated to focus on environmental justice.

Also included are new regulations from Sen. John Hickenlooper, D-Colorado, that require states to review utility rates for electric vehicle charging stations.

To pay for all the new expenses, the authors of the agreement have proposed an intricate series of budget changes. Most are aimed at increasing federal revenue, without raising taxes, a key metric for GOP support. As such, the package proposes:

• Reuse more than $ 205 billion of unused coronavirus relief funds. Another $ 53 billion will come from unused unemployment benefits that states have refused to accept in the face of tight labor markets.

• Raising $ 50 billion by delaying a Trump-era rule on Medicare reimbursements.

• Obtain $ 87 billion from sales of space in the wireless radio wave spectrum.

• Raise $ 30 billion by applying cryptocurrency reporting fees and reporting requirements.

• Obtain $ 87 billion from sales of space in the wireless radio wave spectrum.

Lawmakers also claim that at least $ 60 billion of new revenue will be generated by the economic growth that accompanies new infrastructure projects.

It is not clear if all of the proposed revenue streams will be effective. The full language of the bill has yet to be written, limiting the Congressional Budget Office’s ability to fully determine the cost.

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