Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Budget Committee Democrats, led by Bernie Sanders, reached a $3.5 trillion deal to fund a human infrastructure plan.
With the agreement reached by Democrats there are now two infrastructure bills: the first is the bipartisan $1.2 trillion agreement, which will allocate budget to renew infrastructure as it is traditionally known, i.e. bridges, roads, ports, and so on; and the second plan, the $3.5 trillion plan, will go to fund what Democrats call the country’s human infrastructure, which means funding traditional programs of the Democratic agenda, such as expanding Medicaid coverage, or providing more funding for community colleges, or early childhood programs.
Do Democrats have consensus to pass their human infrastructure plan?
Schumer, after a lengthy meeting with Budget Committee Democrats, stated that a resolution was reached on the budget that could be approved under the reconciliation process, a procedure where in case the vote in the Senate reaches a technical tie, the bill would be defined by the vote of Vice President Kamala Harris.
In order to move the bill through the reconciliation procedure, the Democratic Party will need unity among its 50 Senators, however, there are still several skeptics about the scope of the infrastructure plan.
Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.V) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) have said in the past that they would support a more moderate human infrastructure plan. Machin said he was concerned that the infrastructure plan would have an impact on inflation and the anti-climate change provisions would affect the country’s fossil fuel supply.
“I’m also concerned about maintaining the energy independence that the United States of America has, and you can’t advance that by eliminating fossil fuels,” the senator said.
Manchin has also been concerned about the cost of funding the program. Democratic members of the Senate Budget Committee have asserted that the plan will be paid for by raising taxes on higher-income Americans, referencing the capital gains tax increase also being debated in Congress.
Although the Democrats’ human infrastructure plan is still vague and the program’s specific investments are unknown, President Joe Biden’s American Families plan may give an indication of where the funds will go.
Presumably, the human infrastructure plan will allocate its budget to ensure free preschool education, expand the community college budget, expand coverage of tax credits and child tax credits (i.e., tax refunds), and expand Medicaid coverage.
What is in the traditional $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan?
The infrastructure plan includes a budget to provide $312 billion to fund new public transportation projects and $266 billion to renovate water and sewer systems, expand broadband coverage and upgrade the electric transmission grid.
The transportation section includes spending $109 billion for the construction of new roads and bridges, $49 billion for public transportation (buses and subway systems), $66 billion to renew rail infrastructure, $25 billion for airports, $16 billion for ports, and $15 billion for the development of infrastructure for the use of electric vehicles and buses.
The other amount will go to $55 billion for water and sewer renovation, $65 billion to expand broadband coverage, $73 billion to build new transmission lines that will feed into renewable power generation projects, $21 billion will go to clean up highly contaminated sites, and $47 billion will go to resiliency projects to deal with climate change and cyber-attacks.
The remainder of the plan amount will go to fund existing infrastructure projects, so it does not add new spending not previously provided for in the U.S. budget.
Schumer has promised to bring two parts of the infrastructure plan to a vote before Congress goes on recess in August: the bipartisan $1.2 trillion, eight-year infrastructure deal and a Democratic budget resolution for human infrastructure spending.