Discussions around a federal infrastructure bill are heating up, with both parties taking issue with the process unfolding in the U.S. Senate. As talks continue, the PA Chamber joined a coalition of local chambers, statewide organizations and businesses urging Senators Toomey and Casey to request action on reauthorization of federal funding for surface transportation for roads and bridges, which will expire at the end of September, as well as reforms to environmental review requirements.
With respect to ongoing deliberations over spending frameworks, Democrats have sought to advance a roughly $1.2T bipartisan infrastructure package in tandem with a $3.5T budget resolution that includes several policy and spending priorities outlined by President Biden on the campaign trail. Total spending on both bills is expected to top $4.7T.
Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (NY) sought to advance a placeholder infrastructure bill which would later be amended with the text of an infrastructure compromise. Republicans have objected to moving forward before the bill text is available, and senators expect to produce the draft text in the coming days. The procedural vote failed after facing unified Republican opposition.
Key progressive lawmakers in both chambers are vowing to push ahead without Republican support should the bipartisan infrastructure plan not advance. Senator Tim Kaine (VA) has advocated for ballooning the budget resolution and using the reconciliation process to authorize the spending on a purely party-line vote. Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT), chair of the Senate Budget Committee, agreed, noting, “…you can do it in the bipartisan bill, or you can combine it with one bill. One way or another, it’s going to happen.”
The House is expected to return in August to vote on both the budget resolution and the bipartisan infrastructure package, should one be passed.