Senators Finalize The Bipartisan Infrastructure Spending Bill

The Senate moved forward to debate the bipartisan infrastructure spending bill negotiated by the White House last week after a group of Republicans agreed not to filibuster it, but the final text of the bill wasn't complete until yesterday.

A group of senators spoke to the press yesterday and announced that they've finalized the bill that at least some Republicans are still expected to vote for.

The bill is tentatively scheduled to be handed over to the House of Representatives for final passage this week.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Sunday evening took the next procedural step to move the legislation forward, predicting it would pass the chamber in a “matter of days.” But first it will need to go through an arduous amendment process.

“It’s been decades since Congress passed such a significant standalone investment and I salute the hard work done here by everybody,” Schumer said. “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.”

According to Bloomberg, the actual spending included in the bill breaks down like so:

It includes about $110 billion in new spending for roads and bridges, $73 billion of power grid upgrades, $66 billion for rail and Amtrak, and $65 billion for broadband expansion. It also provides $55 billion for clean drinking water and $39 billion for transit. [...]

Offsets include such items as selling off billions of dollars worth of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve starting in 2028, tapping assorted unspent Covid-19 relief accounts, extending some budget cuts from 2030 to 2031 and delaying a never-implemented prescription drug rebate rule under Medicare.

For reasons I've shared before, I'm particularly excited about the new spending on railroads that could bring trains back to my area of the country for the first time since the 1970s.

With that said, the $73 billion set aside for upgrading power grids and installing electric vehicle charging stations is probably the most important and consequential provision. Our electrified future can't begin without charging stations and the power grid must be more resilient to handle not only that but also the increasing extremes of climate change.

This bipartisan bill does not include any provisions that explicitly address climate change, but I believe it does implicitly. Discretion in the manner of how the funds are spent can make a great deal of difference.

To some political extent, it doesn't actually matter what's in the bill. This is a significant rhetorical victory for Democrats and the White House regardless of how the spending breaks down.