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Senate returns with major questions on status of infrastructure, spending

July and August will be pivotal periods for infrastructure debate
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Posted at 3:15 PM, Jul 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-12 15:16:06-04

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Will they or won't they pass an infrastructure bill? That is the big question facing Congress as they begin to return from their Fourth of July recess.

The Senate returns Monday. The House of Representatives will be back next week.

WHAT THE MAJOR SIDES WANT

President Joe Biden and moderates: This group believes they have the votes for a $579 billion bipartisan infrastructure deal to fund broadband, roads, and bridges. What's unclear is whether they actually have the votes. Five Republicans appear to be on board, but for this to pass in a bipartisan manner, 60 will be needed to support it so the filibuster is deemed mute.

Conservative leadership: This group has been clear that they want zero tax increases. The bipartisan deal doesn't include any tax increases, however, conservative leadership may still vote against it for other reasons.

Progressives: Progressive Democrats, like Sen. Bernie Sanders, have been clear they won't support the bipartisan deal unless a separate, multi-trillion spending bill is also making its way through Congress. This legislation would include things like child care and education, items left out of the bipartisan deal.

To borrow another transportation analogy, think of Biden as a train conductor or engineer who needs to have two trains leave the station at the exact same time.

Train #1 is the bipartisan deal and train #2 would be the partisan, multi-trillion progressive legislation.

HOW IS IT PAID FOR?

To be clear the partisan, progressive legislation has yet to be written. With the Senate returning, that will soon change. It will likely include tax increases.

The bipartisan bill does have a working framework with no tax increases included.

To come up with the money, lawmakers are asking agencies and government organizations to help.

The plan includes cutting $70 billion from the nation’s unemployment benefits program. Although lawmakers say it won’t impact people out of work.

Supporters of the framework want to redirect $80 billion in COVID-19 relief funds to fund infrastructure while also directing the FCC to generate $65 billion by auctioning 5G airwave access

Not to mention, Democrat and Republican negotiators want the IRS to audit more Americans. In fact, Congress plans on hiring new investigators to collect $140 billion in taxes the federal government believes they are entitled to.

Expect more details on the timing of any votes in the Senate in the coming days.

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