The US Senate will aim to finish work on a $1 trillion infrastructure plan this week, which would bring long-awaited improvements to roads, bridges, and mass-transit systems while also giving President Joe Biden a rare bipartisan victory.
Senate negotiators declared on Saturday and Sunday that they had finished drafting a 2,702-page measure, which was quickly introduced, clearing the path for senators to discuss changes.
“It has been decades – decades – since Congress passed such a significant, stand-alone investment,” a buoyant Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on the Senate floor.
“In the end, the bipartisan group of senators have produced a bill that will dedicate substantial resources to repair, maintain, and upgrade our nation’s physical infrastructure,” the Democratic leader added.
If passed, the bill would be the greatest investment in US infrastructure in decades.
Its ratification would be a major victory for Democratic Vice President Joe Biden and the severely divided Congress. It would follow a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus and coronavirus aid plan that was passed without Republican backing earlier this year.
It would also pave the way for Democrats to start working on a budget framework without Republican participation, including proposals for a $3.5 trillion “human infrastructure” measure.
That bill would devote government funds to combating climate change, assisting millions of immigrants in obtaining legal status, and expanding healthcare, particularly for senior folks who require assistance at home.
The Senate must first complete the infrastructure bill, which intends to rebuild the country’s aging roads, bridges, and train lines, as well as increase high-speed internet connection to rural areas where economies have been hampered by outdated technology.
The bill would also aid in the development of a national network of electric vehicle charging stations and the replacement of lead water pipes, though at lower levels than Biden had requested.
Three Republican senators — John Cornyn, Rick Scott, and Martha Blackburn – blasted the infrastructure package on Monday, claiming they didn’t have enough time to review it and objecting to one of its funding mechanisms.
“The Democrats are rushing [through] an infrastructure bill that no one has had a chance to read,” Blackburn said in a post on Twitter. None of those three Republican senators had backed the bill in earlier procedural votes.
On Monday, US Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell advised Democrats against placing any artificial deadline on the bill, noting that it would require a robust amendment process to be considered.
Source: AL JAZEERA