Negotiations Over $1 Trillion Infrastructure Plan Move Forward
24 Jun 2021 · 3rd Party Analysis
- A bipartisan plan is making progress as discussions accelerate
- Lawmakers on Capitol Hill optimistic they could reach a framework this week
The long-anticipated infrastructure proposal with a price tag of $1tn is edging closer to becoming an agreement. Lawmakers in a bipartisan Senate group are making steady progress toward finalizing the details on how to pay for the proposed stimulus package that will focus on fixing bridges, roads, airports, public transit, and more.
The main sticking point in the negotiations, how to come up with funding, would be central to the forthcoming discussion later in the week as the bipartisan group is expected to meet with President Biden later today.
Key lawmakers in the Senate group already met earlier in the week and confirmed they have reached a deal on how to spend the proposed $973bn over five years. Spending would still be oriented toward the well-known measures, including improvements to roads, water, broadband internet, and electric vehicles.
4th of July Vaccination Target to Remain Unmet
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill said they expected to have a framework of an agreement before the Senate entered into a two-week July 4 recess. There is already a viable draft outline of the proposal which has divided the spending among key categories. The plan seeks to dedicate $110bn in spending to bridges and roads, $65bn to expanding internet access, and $48.5bn directed toward improving public transit, among other priorities.
“These things are always complicated and tough,” Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, one of the Republican leaders of the group, said earlier in the week. “It takes a while to write this stuff and do it correctly, but we’re getting there.”
Mr. Portman, alongside Bill Cassidy (R., La.), confirmed Tuesday GOP Senators have agreed on one specific way to raise funding that would partly cover the cost of the plan – collecting taxes that are owed but not paid. As much as $1tn a year in federal taxes, according to information from the Internal Revenue Service, may be going unpaid for various reasons, including fraud, errors, or lack of resources to enforce collections.
The White House had previously rejected other proposals that suggest how to pay for the package. Among them are indexing the gasoline tax to inflation and charging an annual fee on electric cars. There is also a third one, the repurposing of unused Covid-19 aid funding, which Republicans hope to secure despite opposition from the Biden administration.
Meanwhile, President Joe Biden and the White House staff commented earlier this week they will not meet their vaccination goal by July 4. Several weeks ago, the President said his administration will aim to achieve a 70% rate of vaccinated American adults by the US Independence Day.
The White House confirmed health specialists have given at least one shot of a Covid-19 vaccine to 70% of all Americans aged over 30, but to reach Joe Biden’s target of distributing at least the first dose to 70% of all adults would require a few more weeks.
Presently, nearly 66% of all Americans have received at least one jab of a Covid-19 vaccine. The percentage of the total population that has been given one dose stands at 54%, while those fully vaccinated are 46% of all Americans.