A bipartisan infrastructure bill totaling $1.2 trillion was released by a group of 10 senators late Sunday night. It's called the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (PDF) and a vote could take place "in a matter of days," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said. Among other things, the bill includes new federal investments for , , transit and electric utilities. It could amount to one of the biggest investments in infrastructure in over a decade.
The agreement doesn't include spending earmarked for climate change, child care, housing, job training and education -- areas President Joe Biden made part of his initial jobs plan. Those will instead be part of a budget resolution, which Schumer says he will immediately move to after the bipartisan bill passes, which he expects to occur. As it stands now, the bill would include a $550 billion investment in hard infrastructure over five years.
We'll explain the ins and outs here, including what the news means for you. If you want to know more about additional tax relief, here's a primer on theand the continuing . This story was updated with new information.
What's in the infrastructure agreement and what isn't?
The new infrastructure agreement is a long-sought bipartisan compromise that would inject $1.2 trillion into the economy over five years.
Here's how the investment proposals are broken down:
- Public transit, airports and rail: The deal includes $39 billion for mass transit, $66 billion for passenger and freight rail projects, $25 billion for airports and $17 billion for ports and waterways.
- Roads and bridges: The proposal sets aside $110 billion for bridge and road projects, less than the $159 billion initially proposed.
- Electric vehicles: The deal amounts to $12.5 billion total, which includes $7.5 billion to construct a network of electric vehicle chargers and another $5 billion toward electrifying school and transit buses.
- Water, sewer, power systems and environmental remediation: The deal amounts to $201 billion total, with $55 billion toward water infrastructure, $73 billion toward power grid improvements and some amount going to upgrade lead service lines and pipes.
- Broadband: The deal includes $65 billion to improve the country's broadband system. The plan originally proposed $100 billion to provide accessible, high-speed internet service.
The deal doesn't include an earlier proposal to allocate $400 billion for long-term care services to the elderly and people with disabilities under Medicaid, nor does it include the $100 billion for workforce development to underserved groups. It focuses on "physical infrastructure" and not what the Biden administration refers to as "human infrastructure," such as money for expanded education, paid leave and child care and tax credits for families. Those will be a focus in the budget resolution.
How will the infrastructure investment be paid for?
To start, the original proposal by the Biden administration to raise taxes on corporations to cover the cost of the new investments was rejected by Republican lawmakers. Then the GOP's own proposal that the money come from charging fees to electric vehicles or by indexing gasoline tax to inflation was rejected by the Biden administration.
According to a White House fact sheet, the investments will be financed by a combination of the IRS collecting taxes that are overdue, repurposing billions from prior pandemic relief bills and unspent emergency funds as well as "public-private partnerships" and "asset recycling."
Democrats have proposed tax hikes on corporations and wealthy Americans earning more than $400,000 a year, which the Republicans have opposed. Instead, Republican senators have proposed paying for it with COVID-19 relief funds that haven't been used, including the additional unemployment funds that some states canceled.
When will the plan go forward?
The deal was mostly negotiated between a group of 10 senators, split evenly between the two parties, and was agreed on by a larger bipartisan group. The bill could be voted on this week and if passed will move to the House of Representatives for additional amendments.
Pointing to the demand for a reconciliation bill that includes elements of the earlier American Jobs Plan and the American Families Plan, Biden said the two must move "in tandem." That's where the budget resolution comes in -- it includes investments in American jobs, American families and efforts to reverse climate change. "Both tracks are very much needed by the American people and we must accomplish both," Schumer said.
The process of reconciliation is complicated and time-consuming, so there likely won't be any major movement for weeks -- or months. Negotiations could go on through the fall.
Is any more economic relief aid on its way?
Ever since the $1,400 stimulus payments under the, millions still struggling with economic hardship from the pandemic have speculated when more aid could be on the agenda. Here's an update:
Another stimulus payment: The IRS is still making one-time payments for the thirdas well as circling back to send "plus-up" payments to those it either missed paying or . There is no commitment by the White House on a , but the debate might continue alongside the economic rebound.
Student loan cancellation: With student loan debt reaching $1.7 trillion at the end of 2020 -- for an average loan amount of $30,000 -- student debt is higher than auto loans and credit cards. In March, the Biden administration canceled some $2.3 billion in student loan debt to a handful of borrowers. Earlier this month, another $500 million got erased for former students defrauded by ITT Technical Institute, a for-profit chain that closed in 2016. Still, that's just a fraction of the roughly 43 million people who have debilitating student loan debt.
Minimum wage hike to $15 an hour: With the current federal minimum wage at $7.25 per hour (the same level since 2009), some legislators have proposed boosting that hourly rate up to $10 per hour or as high as $15 per hour. Over the past several years, some thirty states, the District of Columbia and forty-five localities have raised their minimum wage to above the federal level. Increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025 would benefit at least 17 million people, but talks on the matter have stalled.