WASHINGTON, Aug. 1 (Xinhua) — The U.S. Senate on Sunday evening introduced a long-awaited and hotly debated infrastructure bill after hours of efforts to finalize the legislative text.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on the Senate floor that given the bipartisan nature of the bill, he believed that the chamber could quickly process amendments and pass the bill “in a matter of days.”
This came just days after a bipartisan group of senators reached an agreement on the major issues of the 1.2-trillion-U.S. dollar bill infrastructure plan, which is much smaller than the plan President Joe Biden originally proposed.
The bipartisan bill includes 550 billion dollars in new spending on infrastructure projects such as roads, bridges, passenger rails, drinking water and waste water systems. The rest of the package involves previously approved spending.
Schumer also noted that this bill is not all what the country needs, reiterating that he will continue the “two-track strategy,” which includes efforts to advance a separate multi-trillion-dollar spending bill without Republican support.
The largely Democratic bill aims to enact most of Biden’s social-spending agenda, such as childcare, education, and climate programs, using a process known as budget reconciliation. With the Senate split 50-50, Democrats must take in moderates who could oppose elements of Biden’s agenda.
Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a budget watchdog group, said in a recent statement that “it is very encouraging that our leaders have put partisanship aside and come together to make important investments in the economy,” but “we are deeply concerned that this legislation does not appear to be fully paid for.”
Noting that the offsets appear to be a combination of real pay-fors and “budget gimmicks,” MacGuineas urged policymakers to identify additional offsets to fully cover the costs and ideally, as Biden proposed, reduce long-term deficits. Enditem