By David Morgan and Makini Brice
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate will attempt to complete work this week on a $ 1 trillion infrastructure investment bill that will bring long-awaited improvements to roads, bridges and public transportation systems and deliver a rare bipartisan victory to the President Joe Biden.
After long weekend sessions, Senate negotiators announced that they had finished drafting a 2,702-page bill, which was introduced, clearing the way for senators to debate the amendments.
“Ultimately, the bipartisan group of senators has drafted a bill that will dedicate substantial resources to repair, maintain, and improve our nation’s physical infrastructure,” said optimistic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer in the plenary session. Senate on Sunday.
Schumer said Monday there were already three bipartisan amendments to consider, with the possibility of more, although Democrats and Republicans had yet to agree on that process.
“The longer it takes to finish the bill, the longer we will be here,” he warned in the Senate, a week before the expected recess in August.
In his own remarks in the Senate, Republican leader Mitch McConnell emphasized the importance of improving infrastructure, but rejected “any artificial timeline that our Democratic colleagues may have drawn for political purposes.”
The legislation, if enacted, would be America’s largest investment in infrastructure in decades. Its passage would mark a major victory for Biden, a Democrat, and a deeply divided Congress. It would come on the heels of a $ 1.9 trillion economic stimulus and a coronavirus relief bill that was enacted earlier this year without Republican support.
The legislation would include $ 550 billion in new spending over five years for items such as roads, railways, electric vehicle charging stations, and lead water pipe replacement in addition to $ 450 billion in previously approved funding.
Its wide-ranging provisions include $ 343 billion for road, bridge and related project improvements, $ 48.4 billion to make drinking water and water infrastructure safer, $ 7.5 billion to help build electric vehicle charging stations, well below what Biden had sought, and $ 350 million over five years to reduce vehicle collisions with wildlife. The bill would provide grants for “wildlife crossing structures.”
The Joint Tax Committee, the nonpartisan investigative arm of the United States Congress, projected that the tax provisions of the Senate bipartisan infrastructure bill would increase the nation’s revenue by $ 51 billion over the next 10 years.
While the $ 1 trillion bill represents a large investment, the American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that over the next two decades the United States should spend about $ 13 trillion to upgrade outdated public works projects that have been rated a “C-” level currently.
The group said in its 2021 assessment that there is a $ 5.6 trillion gap between infrastructure financing that is needed and what is being planned across the country.
The bipartisan $ 1 trillion bill would also pave the way for Democrats, acting without Republican support, to begin work on a budget framework that would outline plans for a 3-month “human infrastructure” bill. 5 trillion dollars.
That bill would earmark federal dollars to fight climate change, help millions of immigrants gain legal protection, and fund an expansion of health care, including for seniors who need assistance at home.
The Senate must first put the final touches on the infrastructure bill, which aims to improve the country’s old roads, bridges and rail lines and expand high-speed Internet access to rural areas where economies have been hampered. by ancient technology.
The legislation would also help build a national network of electric vehicle charging stations and replace lead water pipes, albeit at lower levels than Biden had originally sought.
In a rare sign of bipartisanship last week, the initiative gained early support from enough Republicans to begin debate on the bill. Barring surprising developments, the bill could be ready for a final vote as soon as this week, according to some senators.
However, on Monday, three Republican senators, John Cornyn, Rick Scott and Martha Blackburn, criticized the infrastructure bill, saying they did not have enough time to consider it and disagreeing with one of the ways it would be funded.
None of those three Republican senators had endorsed the bill in previous procedural votes.