U.S. Senate Democrats Rush to Outline Massive Infrastructure Bill | U.S. News®
By Richard Cowan and Susan Cornwell
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – White House officials were scheduled to huddle with Democratic senators later on Tuesday to try to set the outlines of a potentially multitrillion-dollar infrastructure investment initiative that could move through the U.S. Congress this fall.
“I’m hopeful that we can come up with an agreement,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said of the closed-door meeting that he and Senate Budget Committee Democrats were set to attend, adding that Democrats were not underestimating the difficulties ahead.
Democrats aim to push through President Joe Biden’s sweeping infrastructure proposals in two phases: A $1.2 trillion bipartisan bill https://www.reuters.com/world/us/whats-us-senates-12-trillion-infrastructure-plan-2021-06-24 focused on physical infrastructure like roads and bridges and a potentially larger bill that would pass the Senate with only Democratic votes in a maneuver known as “reconciliation https://www.reuters.com/world/us/us-senates-reconciliation-process-its-not-way-it-sounds-2021-06-16.” Tuesday night’s meeting, following a similar session on Monday, is aimed at advancing that second process.
Among the difficulties is Democratic Senator Joe Manchin’s insistence that all of the new spending be offset by savings elsewhere. Without Manchin’s support, Schumer probably cannot pass the wide-ranging legislation.
Senator Bernie Sanders, who chairs the budget panel, is pushing for as much as $6 trillion in infrastructure spending that would include non-traditional investments, such as funding for tackling climate change and helping the elderly and children get home care.
A significant expansion of the Medicare healthcare program for the elderly was also part of the negotiations.
Moderate Democrats have been seeking a less expensive approach in the resolution – possibly trillions below Sanders’ proposal – that would set the framework for legislation likely in September, which also would have to be passed by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives.
An Ipsos poll conducted this month for Reuters found that most Americans want the kind of infrastructure improvements that are included in the plan being pursued by Biden and congressional Democrats.
The national opinion poll conducted last Wednesday and Thursday found that 84% of adults in the United States supported a government spending plan that would repair or replace aging ports, railways, bridges and highways.
Seventy-six percent supported investing in home-based care for the elderly or disabled, 74% supported extending high-speed internet access to all Americans, and 69% supported replacing all lead pipes in the United States.
When asked how to pay for what could be far more than $1 trillion in federal spending, 64% said they would support a tax hike on top-earning Americans, while 27% said they would oppose such a tax increase. Only 37% said they were willing to personally pay more in taxes to help fund a government infrastructure plan.
While Biden has proposed increasing taxes on corporations and the wealthy, he has insisted he would not do the same for anyone making less than $400,000 a year.
The Ipsos poll gathered responses from 1,004 adults and the results had a credibility interval, a measure of precision, of 4 percentage points.
The Senate’s 50 Republicans are not expected to back the broader infrastructure effort, likely leaving Democrats to pursue passage on their own under a budget reconciliation process that sidesteps a rule requiring at least 60 votes to advance legislation in the 100-member chamber.
Republicans have warned they will not support any bill that raises taxes on corporations or the wealthy.
(Reporting by Richard Cowan and Susan Cornwell, Additional reporting by Chris Kahn; Editing by Scott Malone and Peter Cooney)
Copyright 2021 Thomson Reuters.