Infrastructure Bill: Hurdles at Home and Abroad

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Infrastructure Bill: Hurdles at Home and Abroad
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Infrastructure Bill: A bipartisan group of Senators finally voted to take up a roughly $1 trillion infrastructure bill which would unlock about $550 billion in new federal funds. Here’s what both sides are saying. To have stories like this and more delivered directly to your inbox, be sure to sign up for our newsletter.

Top Story: Infrastructure Bill

Today, the first round of the men’s and women’s 400m hurdles kicks off in Tokyo at the postponed summer Olympics. The event has been a staple at the summer games since 1900 for men and 1984 for women. That’s about how long representatives in Washington have been working on their infrastructure proposal, which cleared its first procedural hurdle Wednesday night. We’re being facetious, of course, but after months of back-and-forth, a bipartisan group of Senators finally voted to take up a roughly $1 trillion infrastructure bill which would unlock about $550 billion in new federal funds. This money would be allocated to physical infrastructure items including rail, transit, water, roads, and bridges. To be clear, there are still many hurdles ahead. First, it has to be turned into formal legislative text. Then it has to clear votes in the closely divided Senate and House. This is all to say that if we’re comparing the infrastructure proposal to the 400m hurdles, right now it just barely cleared the first one. It’s still a long way to the finish line. Here’s what both sides are saying.

On The Left

The left is split. They’re excited about the prospect of a major legislative win for President Joe Biden. At the same time, there is a notable split between old school Democrats who don’t want to blow out the budget, and new school progressives who could potentially torpedo this bipartisan bill if it’s not attached to the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package.

“Joe Biden’s bipartisan dream lives on, for now”The Economist: “… For a country aghast at its own toxic partisanship, [this] is significant progress. … In contrast to the dysfunctional policymaking under Mr Trump [this is] how the Senate is meant to work, patiently shaping consensus. … For Mr Biden, the challenge ahead within his party is formidable. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a progressive force in the House, reacted with fury on Twitter, threatening to torpedo the infrastructure deal and noting the Senate negotiators were all white. … If the infrastructure bill then fails, it will be the progressives, not Mr McConnell and his Republicans, who will have crushed Mr Biden’s bipartisan dream.”

“A Democrat Against Deficits” Thomas S. Kahn, House Budget Committee’s Democratic staff director, 1997-2016, Wall Street Journal Opinion: “America needs more infrastructure. We don’t need billions of dollars more debt added to the mountain of debt we already owe. Unfortunately, some congressional Republicans and Democrats who agree on little else are prepared to do exactly that—add billions in red ink rather than fully pay for their infrastructure plans. … As a Democrat, I’m proud of my party’s tradition of deficit reduction and fiscal responsibility. It contrasts with the trillions of dollars Republicans have added to the debt through massive unpaid-for tax cuts. … As the House Budget Committee’s Democratic staff director for 20 years, I saw this nation go from record surpluses to record deficits and debt. … We cannot rely on low interest rates to keep the cost of debt service low forever. … It is encouraging to see America on the cusp of making investments that will strengthen our nation and build a better economy. But adding billions in debt will do the opposite. If something is important enough to spend money on, it is important enough to pay for.”

“What’s keeping Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema from switching to the Republican Party?” Elvia Díaz, Arizona Republic Opinion: This is “a serious question because [Sinema] has done nothing but the bidding of Republicans by allowing just about every legislation to be blocked given the current 50-50 Senate split and the 60-vote threshold to approve bills. Now she’s even torching the Democrats’ budget reconciliation bill which wouldn’t require the blessing of any Republican. … Without her support, the budget reconciliation package is effectively dead. … That’s not just a whiplash. It’s a lethal blow to President Joe Biden’s package that includes – among things – money to expand Medicare, to pay for universal pre-kindergarten, caregiving for the disabled and elderly. … Sinema is putting her faith on Republicans to deliver that package and they might – just might – give her that win. But that’s no consolation for the millions of Americans who need child care, for the elderly and the disabled, for the millions of young immigrants who’ve been tossed around like political football.”

On The Right

The right is also split. Old school conservatives including Senator Mitt Romney are excited about the prospect of the bipartisan infrastructure deal passing. Sen. Thom Tillis penned an op-ed for NBC which articulates this sentiment. With that said, former President Donald Trump and the MAGA-spectrum of the GOP aren’t happy about potentially handing President Biden a major legislative win.

“Senate infrastructure deal is a win for bipartisanship, thanks to Sen. Sinema” Sen. Thom Tillis, Republican senator from North Carolina, NBC News: “Since their party now controls Washington, [Democrats] are entertaining or outright supporting the elimination of the filibuster. There are only two Senate Democrats who have been unequivocal in opposing ending the filibuster and destroying the necessity of bipartisan compromise in Washington: Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia. … Sinema has taken the biggest political risk by holding firm in her position, though, given Arizona’s purple constituency. … The importance of her effort has been made clear as the Senate has worked to pass bipartisan infrastructure legislation rather than pushing through every liberal dream item. … It’s rare to have an elected official from one party publicly praising another from the opposite party, but I’m doing just that because it’s so essential for the future of our nation that Sinema holds fast in keeping the filibuster intact. …  If Democrats had eliminated the filibuster, there would have been no attempt to find common ground on infrastructure or other critical issues.”

“Trump: Infrastructure Deal Makes Republicans Look ‘Weak,’ ‘Dumb'” Jeffrey Rodack, Newsmax: In a statement released through his Save America PAC, Former President Donald Trump blasted Senate Republicans about the infrastructure proposal:  “Hard to believe our Senate Republicans are dealing with the Radical Left Democrats in making a so-called bipartisan bill on ‘infrastructure,’ with our negotiators headed up by SUPER RINO (Republican In Name Only) Mitt Romney. This will be a victory for the Biden Administration and Democrats, and will be heavily used in the 2022 election.” He continued, “It is a loser for the USA, a terrible deal, and makes the Republicans look weak, foolish, and dumb. It shouldn’t be done. It sets an easy glidepath for Dems to then get beyond what anyone thought was possible in future legislation. It will be a continued destruction of our Country. Our Borders are horrible, crime is at an all time high, taxes and inflation are going way up, the economy is going way down, and now this. Don’t do it Republicans—Patriots will never forget! If this deal happens, lots of primaries will be coming your way!”

“‘Complicit’: Meet the 18 Republicans Who Sold Out on Radical Democrat ‘Infrastructure’ Plan Without Reading Bill,” Sean Moran, Breitbart: “Eighteen Senate Republicans sold out to Senate Democrats, with 17 of them voting Wednesday night to advance a $1.2 trillion Democrat ‘infrastructure’ bill and another signaling he would. … All of them voted for this procedural vote without reading the bill—because it would have been impossible for them to read a bill that does not yet exist. … [This] bill that would grant Biden his second significant legislative victory after he passed his $1.9 trillion coronavirus package. The legislation could also likely lead to the passage of the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion reconciliation package, which includes climate change carveouts, boosted welfare benefits, and tax cuts for wealthy, mostly Democrat states. … Although the $1.2 trillion bill contains provisions that would revitalize America’s roads and bridges, it also contains line items that serve as leftist victories, including: $73 billion for clean energy transmission … [and] $21 billion to invest in ‘environmental remediation’ to address racial alleged disparities in environmental pollution.”

Flag This: Infrastructure Bill

Flag Poll: According to an AP/NORC poll, 59 percent of Americans said that improving infrastructure should be a priority in Washington, meaning a majority of the country supports aspects of the bipartisan infrastructure plan. There is disagreement, however, on how to pay for the proposal. “More Democratic and Independent respondents advocate using tax revenue from wealthy households or corporations to fund these infrastructure repairs than Republicans,” Alexandra Kelley reports for The Hill. The pushback from Republicans is that taxing corporations would hinder economic development.

Flag This: Keep an eye on progressives. Although Joe Biden is in the White House and Democrats control Congress, Republicans (at the moment) don’t pose the biggest threat to this bill. Instead, it’s representatives like Cori Bush (D-Mo.) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) who could cause the biggest headaches for Biden. The Economist notes this above and Elvia Díaz articulates their viewpoint in her opinion piece for the Arizona Republic. Bush, Ocasio-Cortez, and other progressives may not support the bipartisan bill unless there’s support for the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package. They’ve also criticized the lack of diversity among negotiators on the latest infrastructure deal. In a tweet, Bush wrote: “Is this the Bipartisan Infrastructure Group or the audience at a Kid Rock concert?”

Flag Poll: Infrastructure Bill

Do you support the bipartisan infrastructure proposal? Comment below to share your thoughts.

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1 month ago

We obviously need repairs to our infrastructure. That should probably be something added to the regular budget. If you build it you need to maintain it. But first we need a budget. You can’t keep spending money you don’t have. I advocate for cutting some of the special interest, wasteful spending and funneling that into infrastructure. Low and middle income families can’t afford higher taxes.

1 month ago

Take ALL funding provided to illegals and apply these funds to infrastructure.

1 month ago

I can’t support something until it’s details are presented and I know what is being funded and how it is being paid for. The federal government has no clue how to spend our money wisely so I’m very concerned about this bill helping us.