US Senate set to pass $1 trillion infrastructure bill
11 August 2021
The US Senate on Tuesday set in motion a bipartisan bill that proposes to authorise President Joe Biden to sign on $1 trillion infrastructure investment bills, the largest ever, which is more than a quarter of the budget that aims at $3.5 trillion in additional investments.
The bill proposes the Invest in New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation in America Act or the INVEST in America Act, which will addresses provisions related to federal-aid highway, transit, highway safety, motor carrier, research, hazardous materials, and rail programmes of the Department of Transportation (DOT).
Among other provisions, the bill extends FY2021 enacted levels through FY2022 for federal-aid highway, transit, and safety programs; reauthorises for FY2023-FY2026 several surface transportation programmes, including the federal-aid highway programme, transit programmes, highway safety, motor carrier safety, and rail programmes.
The bill addresses climate change, including strategies to reduce the climate change impacts of the surface transportation system and a vulnerability assessment to identify opportunities to enhance the resilience of the surface transportation system and ensure the efficient use of federal resources.
It also seeks to revise `Buy America’ procurement requirements for highways, mass transit, and rail; establish a rebuild rural bridges programme to improve the safety and state of good repair of bridges in rural communities; implement new safety requirements across all transportation modes; and directs DOT to establish a pilot programmes to demonstrate a national motor vehicle per-mile user fee to restore and maintain the long-term solvency of the Highway Trust Fund and achieve and maintain a state of good repair in the surface transportation system.
Taken together, the measures, if eventually enacted into law, would jump-start road and bridge-building projects across the United States over the next five years and new social programmes over the next decade.
Late on Monday, Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer set the vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill for 11 am (1500 GMT) on Tuesday.
The Senate is expected to pass the bill, which would also help many rural communities to get broadband internet service, potentially boosting their economies.
Once passed, the legislation would go to the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives for consideration sometime this fall.
An around-the-clock session could then be in store for the Senate as it aims to debate and pass the larger, $3.5 trillion budget plan.
In order to move through the evenly divided Senate without Republican support, Democrats aim to employ a “reconciliation” procedure that would allow them to advance the budget plan this week and implementing legislation later this year on simple majority votes.
The budget plan would provide various Senate committees with top-line spending levels for a wide range of federal initiatives, including helping the elderly get home healthcare and more families afford early childhood education.
It also would provide tuition-free community college and foster major investments in programmes to significantly reduce carbon emissions blamed for climate change.
Later, Senate committees would have to fill in the details for scores of federal programmes.
The budget blueprint was formally unveiled on Monday, the same day a UN climate panel released the latest report on climate change and global warming, which warns of catastrophie if nations fail to check emissions and green house gases.
Once the Senate passes the infrastructure bill and the budget plan, there would be a month-long summer break before the congress returns. However, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the top Democrat in Congress, has warned that the Senate must pass both the $1 trillion infrastructure bill and the $3.5 trillion measures before it acts.
When Congress returns in September, it will not only debate the large investment measures but have to fund government activities for the fiscal year beginning on 1 October.