Mon, 27 Sep 2021

US Senate Considers Massive Infrastructure Measure

Voice of America
02 Aug 2021, 16:05 GMT+10

WASHINGTON - U.S. senators have introduced a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure spending package to fix the country's deteriorating roads and bridges and to expand broadband service nationwide.

It came in a rare Sunday session, and lawmakers will now have the opportunity to offer amendments to the 2,700-page bill.

The proposal emerged from weeks of negotiations involving Democratic and Republican senators, as well as the White House. It includes $550 million in new spending along with $450 billion in previously approved funds.

Included in the package are $110 billion for roads and bridges, $39 billion for public transit and $66 billion for rail. Fifty-five billion dollars is allocated for drinking water and wastewater infrastructure as well as billions for airports, ports, broadband internet and electric vehicle charging stations.

"Given how bipartisan the bill is, and how much work has already been put in to get the details right, I believe the Senate can quickly process relevant amendments and pass this bill in a matter of days," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on the Senate floor Sunday.

Republican Senator Rob Portman, one of the negotiators of the package, said it will be "great for the American people."

"This is a really important bill because it takes our big, aging and outdated infrastructure in this country and modernizes it. That's good for everybody," Portman said.

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, talks to reporters as he takes a Senate subway train on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, July 30,... Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, talks to reporters as he takes a Senate subway train on Capitol Hill in Washington, July 30, 2021.

The bill is something of a rarity in Washington - a potential bipartisan deal in a fractious political environment where Republicans and Democrats remain divided on a host of other issues.

The measure has already cleared preliminary procedural votes with unified Democratic support and more than 15 Republicans in favor in the evenly divided 100-member Senate.

If the Senate does give its approval, the measure would then go the House of Representatives, where some progressive lawmakers have complained that the infrastructure package is not big enough.

The package is one of President Joe Biden's biggest legislative priorities. It represents an attempt six months into his presidency to prove to voters that the White House and Congress can reach bipartisan agreement on some issues.

Brian Deese, the director of Biden's National Economic Council, told the "Fox News Sunday" show, that the new infrastructure spending amounted to "badly needed investments in our country."

The White House is predicting that the spending could annually add two million new jobs, mostly in the construction sector, for the next decade.

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