President Biden on Tuesday declared that it was “infrastructure decade” and that the US economy is in for a “long term boom” after the Senate passed a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill — despite much of it not being paid for.
The bill passed the Senate on Tuesday with 19 Republicans joining all 50 Democrats in favor. House passage is likely weeks away due to a scheduled summer vacation period.
“After years and years of ‘infrastructure week’, we’re the cusp of an infrastructure decade that I truly believe will transform America.” Biden said at the White House — before bungling his victory speech by saying Gov. Andrew Cuomo did “a hell of a job” despite resigning amid sexual assault allegations and federal probes of his coverup of COVID-19 nursing home deaths.
The Senate-passed infrastructure bill costs $1.2 trillion over eight years, but it is sometimes cited as $1 trillion, the cost over five years. The bill includes $550 billion in new spending over five years.
Biden spoke as Senate Democrats begin the process of attempting to force through a supplementary $3.5 trillion bill that includes much of the social provisions that didn’t gain support from Republicans amid fear that massive spending will further spur inflation.
The initial infrastructure bill is Biden’s first major bipartisan legislative achievement. The deal was brokered after Biden in March forced through a $1.9 COVID-19 relief bill without Republicans, saying that their counter-proposal was too small.
The Senate-passed bill sets aside $110 billion for roads and bridges, $66 billion for passenger and freight rail, $65 billion for broadband internet, more than $50 billion for water infrastructure, $39 billion for public transit and $25 billion for airports.
It contains some big wins for Democrats who wanted global warming to be addressed, including $7.5 billion to install new electric vehicle charging stations, $5 billion to buy electric and low-emission buses and $2.5 billion for ferries.
The bill would put $73 billion toward “clean energy transmission … including by building thousands of miles of new, resilient transmission lines to facilitate the expansion of renewable energy,” a recent White House fact sheet said.
Another $21 billion would go toward environmental remediation, “making the largest investment in addressing the legacy pollution that harms the public health of communities and neighborhoods in American history,” the White House said.
The infrastructure bill would add $256 billion to the federal deficit over 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office. But the White House has disputed some estimates and insists the tally doesn’t properly take into account cost savings.
Democrats hope to ram through the larger $3.5 trillion bill next month. It would hike taxes on businesses and higher incomes and is expected to gain no Republican votes. Special budget reconciliation rules allow for passage with a bare majority in the Senate, where Vice President Kamala Harris breaks ties. Centrist Democrats are likely to demand major changes to that bill.