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A bipartisan group of US senators have proposed billions of dollars of new spending on roads, public transit, affordable high-speed internet and clean drinking water, among other things.
This latest bill, called the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, is significant because it’s an iteration of President Biden’s infrastructure plan – but pared down so that it can garner enough Republican support to get through the Senate and be signed into law.
The $550bn plan costs less than a quarter of Biden’s American Jobs Plan, which proposed $2.6tn in new spending over the next decade. But the bill still funds many of the investments the Biden administration has prioritized. In addition, it appears to have support from at least 10 Republicans – enough to overcome a filibuster which requires at least 60 of the 100 Senate votes.
Here’s what was stripped from Biden’s plan and what is still in the Senate version:
A huge portion of transportation infrastructure is still funded
The new bill proposed $109bn in new investments for roads, bridges and related projects. It also makes significant investments in rail projects, public transit and airports. The biggest cut from Biden’s plan was in funding for nationwide infrastructure that electrifies America’s vehicles.
Investments in the power grid, high-speed internet and clean water are still big parts of the new bill
The bipartisan bill invests tens of billions of dollars in the country’s power grid. This is especially salient in 2021: Americans have felt the impacts of the country’s fragile grid infrastructure, from the blackouts in Texas to threats of brownouts during the summer heatwaves. In addition the bill makes massive investments in providing high-speed internet to all Americans, as well as fixing water infrastructure. The Senate bill falls short of Biden’s initial proposal, but it still makes significant new investments to address some of the Biden administration’s biggest priorities.
What was left out: the most contentious proposals on housing, clean energy tax credits and long-term care
Biden’s initial bill included about $1.7tn in new spending for long-term care for older adults and people with disabilities, clean energy tax credits, schools and climate change research, among other things.
Many of these line items faced strong opposition from Republicans and were left out of this bipartisan bill. They may be added into the budget bill, which the Senate will tackle in the coming months. A budget bill could be passed with a mere Senate majority using a process called budget reconciliation, and Democrats control 50 seats with the tie-breaking vote in Vice-President Kamala Harris. That said, moderate Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) said she doesn’t support the $3.5tn price tag for that bill, so it may need to be pared down to pass.