By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
(Worthy News) – The Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate has approved President Joe Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure investment plan despite its hefty price tag and criticism that not all money will go to upgrade assets such as roads, bridges, airports, and waterways.
A rare coalition of Democrats and Republicans joined together to overcome skeptics and deliver a cornerstone of President Biden’s agenda. “Today, we proved that democracy can still work,” Biden declared at the White House, noting that the 69-30 vote included even Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell.
“We can still come together to do big things, important things, for the American people,” Biden stressed.
Tuesday’s passing of the bill kicked off debate on a massive $3.5 trillion spending blueprint to finance President Biden’s “Build Back Better” priorities on climate change, universal preschool, and affordable housing.
But the spending plans were due to worry conservatives worried about rising inflation. According to official data, prices already rose 5.4 percent in June compared to a year ago, marking the most significant increase since 2008.
Supporters of Tuesday’s approved package believe the bill, which the 100-member chamber passed in a 69-30 vote, could provide the nation’s
the most significant investment in decades in infrastructure assets.
U.S. stocks headed to new records on the news.
Under the plan, the country’s road infrastructure gets $110 billion, one of the most significant single allocations in the bill. However, in reality, much of that money will go to renovations “with a focus on climate change mitigation, resilience, equity and safety for all users, including cyclists and pedestrians,” according to a White House summary.
Of that money, only $40 billion will go towards repairing or replacing old bridges. However, that was still the most significant share for that purpose since the U.S. interstate highway system was built decades ago, the Biden administration said. Another $16 billion would go towards unspecified “major projects.”
Separately in what the White House calls “the largest investment in passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak 50 years ago,” $66 billion will go towards modernizing passenger rail infrastructure. That includes a famous line connecting major cities in the northeastern United States.
The plan also would allocate $17 billion towards the waterways and ports. And another $25 billion would go to fund projects at airports, including deferred maintenance.
But in a move due to alarm skeptics, $50 billion will be spent on unclarified measures aimed at “cutting emissions and mitigating the impact of climate change.” The bill also dedicates $5 billion for emissions-free school busses and $2.5 billion for ferries. In addition, according to the plan, to boost the electric vehicle market, $7.5 billion would go towards constructing a national network of chargers for the cars.
To plan also sets aside cleaning up pollution from toxic waste, abandoned mine lands, and gas wells that have been left unplugged. It also allocates $15 billion towards replacing water pipes that carry the lead. But that represents only a third of the amount needed to replace them nationwide.
The White House said floods, wildfires, and other natural disasters in 2020 cost up to $100 billion. And the money would go towards improving communities’ resiliency against such calamities and cyber attacks.
Connecting more people to the Internet is also a priority of Biden. The bill would also allocate $65 billion towards expanding broadband infrastructure while putting in place new regulations to lower prices and a program aimed at providing Internet to low-income families.
Biden’s original proposal had a whopping $2.3 trillion price tag. It included provisions that did not make it into the bipartisan compromise, like raising wages for childcare workers. Republicans said the initial proposal was too expensive, so the bipartisan bill includes “only” $550 billion in new spending.
The rest of it is paid for by unspent money from previous COVID-19 pandemic aid packages, authorities say. New tax enforcement on cryptocurrency and some corporate user fees prompted the White House to tackle the students. The bill also assumes higher economic growth will cover some costs by bringing in more tax revenue.
New tax enforcement on cryptocurrency and some corporate user fees will also finance part of the package. And, the bill assumes higher economic growth will cover some costs by bringing in more tax revenue.
While the Senate passed the package quickly, the lower House of Representatives prospects are less clear.
If you are interested in articles produced by Worthy News, please check out our FREE sydication service available to churches or online Christian ministries. To find out more, visit Worthy Plugins.