On Sunday night, a bipartisan group of senators reached a tentative agreement on a compromise infrastructure bill. If you want to find out what’s in it, you’d better read fast, though: It’s 2,702 pages.
According to ABC News, the bill will include $550 billion in new spending before amendments are added.
“It includes $110 billion in new funds for roads and bridges, $66 billion for rail, $7.5 billion to build out electric vehicle charging stations, $17 billion for ports, $25 billion for airports, $55 billion for clean drinking water, a $65 billion investment in high-speed internet and more,” the outlet reported Sunday.
And that’s just the beginning: “Members of both parties have said they support a robust amendment process that will give lawmakers the chance to try to modify the bill,” ABC News said.
They’ll be acting fast, though, since Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer wants this passed posthaste.
“Given how bipartisan the bill is and how much work has already been put in to get the details right, I believe the Senate can quickly process relevant amendments to pass this bill in a matter of days,” the New York Democrat said late Sunday night.
After weeks of negotiations, the process began moving forward in earnest after over a dozen Republicans voted to move the proposal forward last week, despite no concrete legislation to speak of.
What’s taking so long? Romney told me that they are correcting all the “its and ats.”
Schumer was supposed to come to the floor around 2:15 with what was expected to be the final update. We are still waiting. https://t.co/Rrbk3KZIdP
— Leigh Ann Caldwell (@LACaldwellDC) August 1, 2021
Seventeen Republicans in total joined 50 Democrats to move the bill forward in a procedural test vote: Sens. Roy Blunt of Missouri, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Susan Collins of Maine, Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, Mike Crapo of Idaho, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Chuck Grassley of Iowa, John Hoeven of North Dakota, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Rob Portman of Ohio, Jim Risch of Idaho, Mitt Romney of Utah, Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Todd Young of Indiana.
At the time, the cost being bandied about was $1.2 trillion. Without legislative text to go on, many Republicans balked — but not enough, given the bill advanced to the debate phase on a 67-32 vote.
“I voted no on #infrastructure a week ago because there was no legislative text,” tweeted GOP Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina.
“My mind hasn’t changed. There’s still no legislative text or explanation on how to pay for a $1T infrastructure plan.”
I voted no on #infrastructure a week ago because there was no legislative text.
My mind hasn’t changed. There’s still no legislative text or explanation on how to pay for a $1T infrastructure plan.
— Tim Scott (@SenatorTimScott) July 28, 2021
Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas expressed similar reservations.
“Until this bill is actually written and we have a chance to review it, including all the details, the costs, the pay-fors, and the impact it will have on our states, I will not support it,” he said in a statement. “And I imagine the majority of my Republican colleagues feel the same way.”
Have fun reviewing the current text, because this isn’t exactly nightstand reading. Here are all 2,702 pages, in case you’re interested:
And keep in mind, this is the bipartisan compromise that includes the items that are, if you squint hard enough, infrastructure. Drinking water projects and electric vehicle charging stations aren’t usually what Americans think of when the word “infrastructure” gets brought up.
That has nothing on the $3.5 trillion budget bill Schumer wants to pass via budget reconciliation, however, which ABC News reported includes “funding for things like pre-K, housing, health care and other items that Republicans struck from the bipartisan plan in order to achieve a more narrowly tailored infrastructure proposal.”
In other words, the bipartisan plan might have accomplished nothing for Republicans other than handing a public relations victory to President Joe Biden’s administration.
The only bright spot indicating something might be salvaged is the fact that Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, one of the Democratic caucus’ moderates, has indicated she wouldn’t support a reconciliation bill that clocks in at $3.5 trillion.
While budget reconciliation bills require only 50 votes to pass the Senate, the Democrats still can’t lose a single vote to get it through. Since Schumer and the Democrats want it passed along with the infrastructure bill before the Senate’s scheduled Aug. 9 recess, according to the Daily Caller News Foundation, that’s a serious roadblock to the timeline.
Even as it stands, though, we now have a 2,700-page monstrosity that still stretches what can reasonably be considered “infrastructure” — and Chuck Schumer wants it passed as quickly as possible in order to score a “bipartisan” victory.
After weeks of negotiation, the Democrats want this finalized in a matter of days, despite the fact the bill is so massive it’d be impossible to scrutinize.
The Republicans should just walk away. But then, they should have walked away from this poxed sham compromise before it even began, and yet here we are.
In the end, all the GOP seems to have accomplished is making up an awfully expensive bed to lie in.
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