On Wednesday, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) plans to hold a cloture vote on the “compromise” infrastructure spending bill in the U.S. Senate. The bill is projected to authorize at least $1.2 trillion on infrastructure funding. This is in addition to the so-called “human infrastructure” bill Democrats hope to pass under reconciliation with a price tag topping $3.5 trillion. The bills will use infrastructure funding as a means of starting the transformation to a “green economy.”
The language of the compromise bill is still being negotiated, so Schumer plans to put up a shell bill for cloture and then amend it with the bipartisan compromise language when the negotiations are finished.
Expect to find federal spending to “encourage” state and localities to adopt red light scameras, facial recognition technology, license plates readers, and other tools to invade your privacy in the legislation. There may also be a “study” of a mileage tax.
The House already passed an infrastructure spending bill, HR 3684, the “INVEST in America Act,” by a vote of 221-201. Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01) and Chris Smith (NJ-04) were the only Republicans to vote for the bill, which was supported by every Democrat.
One part of the House bill that is causing some controversy is a change to the way federal infrastructure funds are distributed. The House bill adds complexities to the application procedure for state and local governments to receive transportation funds. The purpose of this is to “encourage” them to spend more on public transportation and other “green” projects and less on highways. States traditionally have spent the majority of funds on highways, which makes sense since most people prefer traveling by car rather than by bus or subway, but the green movement wants to force people out of their cars and onto buses, subways, and bike trails.
This provision has understandably generated opposition from state and local governments who object when Congress puts strings on federal funding. It has also generated opposition from the General Association of Contractors, since a lot of their members are heavily involved in highway construction.
Some progressive House members are threatening to blow up the infrastructure deal unless immigration reform is added to the forthcoming “human infrastructure” bill that the Senate intends to pass under reconciliation, which means they only need 51 votes.
While the House can put immigration in the bill, there’s a good chance it would be stripped out by the Senate Parliamentarian for not falling within the parameters of what is proper to include in a reconciliation bill.
Before moving to the second infrastructure bill, both the House and Senate will likely attempt to pass a budget. The Biden administration recently unveiled a $6 trillion budget plan.
Several weeks ago, the House snuck a provision into a rule “damming” the funding levels available for the Appropriations Committee at $1.5 trillion. This enabled the Appropriations Committee to set their spending numbers for each subcommittee so they can get to work on this year’s spending bills.
The Appropriations Committee passed all of their spending bills during the recent committee work period.
You can read the Appropriations Committee Subcommittee allocations here.
Note that, despite Republican cries about how the Democrats are under-funding the military, the Defense Subcommittee’s allocation dwarfs the allocations for every other subcommittee, except for Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education—and that is only because the Labor, HHS, and Education appropriations allocations contains the “mandatory” funding for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Take that out and Defense appropriations spending allocation is larger than Labor.
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