The Senate is expected to vote soon on a massive trillion-dollar infrastructure package and the promise of passing a second spending bill that would be three times bigger.
A group of Democratic and Republican U.S. senators agreed to the framework for the infrastructure bill recently. Over the weekend, the bill’s final text was released to the public to read and analyze.
The total cost of this first infrastructure bill is $1.2 trillion. Although it is less than half of the $2.25 trillion that President Biden originally proposed, it is more than double what Senate Republicans had previously offered. You can read for yourself a summary of what’s in the bill.
Everything about this spending bill is massive–from its price tag to its actual length in pages. But there’s no concern about the wasteful spending contained within it, how little of this trillion-dollar package is going to actual infrastructure, or that too much money is dedicated to partisan priorities. Welcome to the world of out-of-control spending on steroids!
Here are four things to know about the bipartisan infrastructure bill:
- It is a whopping 2,702 pages long! If the average person reads about 55 pages per hour, she would have to spend 59 straight hours reading to finish the full bill.
- Less than $1 out of $10 is for real infrastructure. It only provides about $110 billion for roads, bridges and other major projects that people generally consider “infrastructure.” Most of the remainder is spending on far-left priorities and Green New Deal projects. According to reporting, the bill proposes $73 billion to kill fossil fuels and move to clean energy and to upgrade power infrastructure; $66 billion for Amtrak; $65 billion on broadband infrastructure; $55 billion to replace lead pipes and service lines for clean drinking water; $39 billion to modernize and improve public transit; $25 billion for airports; $21 billion in environmental remediation; $17 billion in port infrastructure; $15 billion for electric vehicles, busses, and trucks and charging stations; and more. Putting charging stations for Teslas throughout urban areas may be nice local pet project, but should not divert funds from crumbling roads and bridges in crisis. There is so little infrastructure, but so many partisan, job-killing priorities.
- It’s a gateway for $3.5 trillion of additional spending. $3.5 trillion is “a sum so massive it would eclipse the total GDP of Spain, Australia and Switzerland combined.” House and Senate Democrats are adamant that in order for any infrastructure bill to pass, Senate Republicans must pass over three trillion dollars more in new domestic spending. If the bipartisan bill hardly addresses real infrastructure, this additional spending is three times worse. Included in new spending would be a monumental expansion of Medicare, expanding the child tax credit permanently, providing paid medical and family leave, enacting even more costly climate action, and possibly even making changes to immigration law: This would be paid for with tax hikes on businesses, families, and individuals. Tax hikes will hurt small businesses, drive consumer prices higher, and stunt economic growth.
- It’s paid for by gimmicks. This infrastructure bill is paid for through a combination of measures that are murky and may not actually cover the full costs. Some offsets make perfect sense such as repurposing $200 billion of unused COVID relief funds. Others are admirable but hard to accomplish like trying to recoup tens of billions of dollars of fraudulent unemployment insurance payments. However, to make up for $500 billion in new spending, there are not enough leftover funds or fraudulent checks to recover. Some of the payfors are higher fees and taxes that will get passed on to consumers through higher prices. The National Taxpayers Union provides a great analysis of the payfors noting, “While some key details remain murky or unclear, from what we know so far, the “pay-for” section leaves much to be desired…unfortunately most of the “pay-fors” rely on questionable math or gimmicky behavior.”
What happens next?
The $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill still has a way to go. The Senate must pass the bill before it heads to the U.S. House of Representatives. Now, that it has been introduced, senators can introduce amendments with votes on those amendments set for early this week.
At the same time, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-CA) plans to start the process on a budget measure that would allow them to pass $3.5 trillion in new spending without bipartisan support (i.e. by just 50 Democratic votes). He reportedly wants to wrap up this budget resolution and get it to the House as well.
Democrats have imposed a big looming deadline to get this through the Senate. Every August Congress goes on summer break for about a month. So they want to advance these bills before they go home for the recess starting August 9. The House won’t be back in session until September 20.
In the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said she will not take up the infrastructure bill for consideration unless the Senate has passed both the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill and the $3.5 trillion budget resolution.
While it may seem like there’s plenty of time for either or both of these bills to pass, realistically, that’s not so. Once campaign season begins for the 2022 midterm elections, it will be politically infeasible to pass such massive spending without the fear of blowback at the polls. Look for this process, if it works out, to happen sometime this fall or not at all.
The days of wonton spending in Washington are back! Congress wants to pass $4.7 trillion in spending on top of the $1.9 trillion dollars in COVID relief spending they already approved this year as part of President Biden’s American Rescue Plan.
The American people support spending on our infrastructure if it’s for just that, infrastructure. Wasteful spending, spending on far-left wishlist priorities, and spending with no concern about deficits are not what Americans want.
We may have supported targeted, temporary aid to help struggling families and small businesses survive the pandemic. These bills do not provide temporary, targeted relief but will straddle long-term financial hardship on consumers, small businesses, and future generations. Someone needs to stand up and say no more.