The $1 trillion bipartisan, physical infrastructure plan could be voted on by the Senate as early as next week. While there’s support on both sides of the aisle to move the bill forward, it’s not a done deal, yet.
“Like any of these bipartisan deals, they have some bumps and we’re going through some bumps but I’m still very optimistic that we may get it on the floor of the Senate next week,” Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), one of the bill’s negotiators, told CBN News.
Warner said no one can deny the need for updates to things like bridges, roads, and airports, but agreeing on how to pay for it is challenging.
“There are challenges. How do we pay for this when my Republican colleagues say they don’t want to raise taxes and President Biden says we don’t’ want to increase the gas tax or user fees,” explained Warner. “We’re looking at re-capturing the money that may not have been spent in certain COVID bills. We’re looking for example at some of those states that returned unemployment dollars, using those, so we’re looking at every nook and cranny on how we get that paid for in an appropriate way.”
Warner said with all the hard work they’ve put into the bill and President Biden’s support, he’s optimistic it bill will be signed into law.
“If we’re successful, chances are we’re going to get closer to 70 votes than 60 votes,” Warner claimed.
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Democrats hope to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill and a separate budget reconciliation bill that includes other priorities like universal pre-kindergarten, expanding Medicare and Medicaid, and dealing with climate issues. They need unanimous party unity to make that happen.
“These legislations are going in parallel. They’re not connected to each other, but there will be things in the second bill that will simply be Democrats only that some of my Republican friends won’t like,” Warner said.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) claims she won’t bring the infrastructure bill up for a vote unless the Senate passes the budget reconciliation, too.
Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) hopes their fates won’t be tied together.
“I’m concerned about it but they don’t relate to one another,” Portman told reporters. “One is bipartisan, responsible, no tax increases and the other is, you know, a huge new spending spree.”
Senate Democrats only need 50 votes to pass the reconciliation bill, but Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has concerns about the price tag and provisions that would eliminate fossil fuels.
“I’m just looking at everything in a holistic way,” said Manchin. “I know we have needs in our country, and we have responsibilities and obligations but we have financial responsibilities, too.”
Warner claims the budget bill is paid for and hopes both plans will pass.
“The first step will be to agree on a topline number. Then it will literally take months to work through the policy. But if we can agree on a topline number, I hope that will be enough to go ahead and let the infrastructure plan through,” Warner noted.
Warner said if and when the infrastructure bill is signed into law, he hopes an expedited review process will quickly get the projects underway.