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U.S. senators finalize details of $1 trillion infrastructure plan

World35 minutes ago (Aug 01, 2021 09:35PM ET)

(C) Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Vehicles are parked outside the U.S. Capitol building the morning the Senate returned to session in Washington, DC, U.S., July 31, 2021. REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz/File Photo

By David Morgan and Richard Cowan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. senators on Sunday finalized details of a roughly $1 trillion plan to invest in roads, bridges, ports, high-speed internet and other infrastructure, with some predicting the chamber will pass the bipartisan legislation this week.

After weeks of negotiations, Senator Kyrsten Sinema, an Arizona Democrat, introduced the bill’s text for consideration on the Senate floor, starting a process of considering proposed amendments.

According to senators from both parties, the bill included $550 billion in new spending over five years.

This was expected to go to projects including roads, rail, electric vehicle charging stations and the replacement of lead water pipes on top of $450 billion in previously approved funds.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, said of the deal, “I believe we can quickly process relevant amendments and pass this bill in days.”

The massive infrastructure package, a goal that has eluded Congress for years, is a top legislative priority for President Joe Biden, who has billed it as the largest such investment in a century. In a tweet https://twitter.com/POTUS/status/1421887843266351106 on Sunday, Biden called it “the most important investment in public transit in American history.”

“Tonight we are at that place where we can begin to take up the infrastructure product that we’ve been working on for months and months and that the country deserves,” said Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

“This is big. This is a big deal,” said Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

If the bill passes the Senate, it must be considered in the House of Representatives, where some Democrats have blasted it as too small and the Democratic leadership has paired it with a $3.5 trillion “human infrastructure” bill to pour money into education, child care, climate change and other priorities.

Democrats want to offset that social spending with tax increases on corporations and wealthy Americans earning more than $400,000 a year – measures that Republicans oppose – leaving the fate of both bills up in the air.

Senator Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, earlier told CNN that she believes at least 10 Republicans will support the measure, enabling it to clear a 60-vote procedural hurdle.

“My hope is that we’ll finish the bill by the end of the week,” Collins said, adding that the measure is “good for America.”

Individual senators’ review of the final text – including detailed provisions to pay for it – will determine whether a sizeable bipartisan majority in the closely divided Senate can hold up. Senators so far have supported a shell version of the legislation in procedural votes, including a 66-28 margin on Friday that included 16 Republicans.

White House economic adviser Brian Deese talked up the bill before its final provisions were revealed as “badly needed investments in our economy” that could help ease supply bottlenecks that were contributing to inflation.

“It will make it easier to get goods and services flowing. It’ll actually lower prices over the long term,” Deese said on “Fox News Sunday.”

U.S. senators finalize details of $1 trillion infrastructure plan

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