Biden nudges Senate over 'historic' $1T infrastructure bill

Despite a rocky week of fits and starts, President Joe Biden on Friday praised the Senate for edging the bipartisan infrastructure plan closer to passage, ahead of a key vote on the $1 trillion package.

Biden nudges Senate over 'historic' $1T infrastructure bill

Biden, speaking from the White House compared "historic investment" with building the transcontinental railroad and interstate highway systems -- themes he has previously touched upon as he pushes Congress along. He said that the public works projects will be powered by blue-collar, well-paying jobs.

After frustrations mounted overnight, and as the Senate was unable to move the package forward, the president's encouragement provides a chance for lawmakers to reset. Senators will return for another weekend session.

Biden stated that the bill would "end years of gridlock and create millions good-paying jobs, and put America on a new track to win the race in the 21st Century economy."

He stated that the public works spending will allow him to "not only build back, but also to rebuild better than before" the economic crisis.

It's nearing decision time for Congress, and particularly the Senate, to make gains on the president's infrastructure priorities -- first with the bipartisan bill that's on track for passage as soon as this weekend, and quickly followed by Democrats' more sweeping $3.5 trillion budget blueprint they plan to shoulder on their own.

Senators had hoped to wrap up the bipartisan bill late Thursday, before many of them departed to attend funeral services Friday in Wyoming for a colleague, the former Republican Sen. Mike Enzi.

The Senate was unable to continue as planned. Senators continued to work late into the night to amend the bill and counter Republican objections to the expedited process. A procedural vote was scheduled for Saturday.

Just before midnight, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) stated that "We've worked hard, long, and collaboratively to complete this important bipartisan bill." He stated that he wanted to complete Saturday's schedule when he announced it.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is the first part of Biden’s infrastructure agenda. It would provide billions in new funding for roads, bridges and waterworks projects. It would be next sent to the House if it is approved by the Senate.

Late-night sessions were stalled due to new debates over proposed amendments that would have changed the 2,700-page package. Nearly two dozen amendments have been submitted by senators, but none of them has significantly changed the framework for the public works package. Senators were unable to come to an agreement with more than a dozen additional amendments.

The Congressional Budget Office's much-anticipated analysis of the bill raised concerns, especially from Republicans. It concluded that the legislation would increase deficits by about $256 billion over the next decade, though the bill's backers argued that the budget office was unable to take into account certain revenue streams -- including from future economic growth.

Senator Bill Haggerty (Republican from Tennessee), an ally to Donald Trump and former ambassador to Japan, stated that he opposed expediting consideration of this bill due to the high price tag.

Hagerty stated that he could not allow this to happen in a statement released Friday morning. He expressed concern that the passage of the bipartisan bill would allow Democrats to quickly move to their $3.5 trillion tax-and-spend spree.

Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), House Speaker, encouraged senators to sign on, but also stated that her chamber would consider infrastructure bills "together."

She said, "Bravo!" at a Capitol press conference. "We will do this when it is possible."

Bitcoin was one of the amendments that received the most attention on Thursday.

This bill would bring in $28 billion over 10 year by updating IRS reporting requirements to cryptocurrency brokers. It also mirrors the way stockbrokers report sales to IRS.

Sen. Pat Toomey (Republican from Pennsylvania) and other lawmakers who sought to reduce the list of individuals who must file IRS forms are concerned about crypto miners, software engineers, and other subjects to the new reporting requirement.

Toomey stated that the provision as it stands could have a "chilling impact on the development and use of this technology." That's what I am most concerned with.

Lately, the White House submitted a weigh-in suggesting that it preferred a different approach to Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and other senators.

Andrew Bates, White House deputy press secretary, stated that the compromise amendment would "reduce tax evasion on the cryptocurrency market."

The infrastructure bill, which calls for $550billion in new spending over five year, above the federal levels, is a package worth nearly $1 trillion. This could be one the largest investments in roads, bridges and electric grids in many years.

After senators finish work on the bipartisan bill they will move on to the more partisan Biden agenda. A $3.5 trillion proposal for human infrastructure, which the White House calls "human infrastructure", is what Biden has proposed. This includes child care support, home care care, education, and other spending that are Democratic priorities, but Republicans have promised to reject them. The fall will see more debate.

Schumer asks the Senate to pass the bipartisan package as well as a budget blueprint for a larger proposal before senators leave for August recess.

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