$ 111 billion has been earmarked for replacing lead water pipes and replacing old sewer pipes. $ 100 billion for national broadband internet; $ 100 billion to upgrade the electrical grid to provide clean energy; and $ 300 billion to build and upgrade homes. The administration is putting $ 400 billion in this package for caring for the elderly and people with disabilities, rather than deferring it for the next round of social infrastructure spending, which will be rolled out later. This is likely a reflection of the huge long-term care shortcomings that the pandemic has uncovered.
This comes with a corporation tax hike, from 21% set by Trump tax fraud to 28%. This would prevent companies from just shifting profits overseas to avoid that tax hike by introducing a global minimum tax of 21%, and prevent companies from partnering with overseas companies to relocate their headquarters and avoid taxes. It would also increase IRS audits of companies, which could raise even more money (but the IRS must be fully funded for this to happen). That’s all of the hard infrastructure; The “soft” infrastructure – childcare funding, family tax credits, and other domestic programs – will be available in a few weeks. That will add up to roughly $ 2 trillion and include tax hikes for the super-rich.
All of this means that Republicans hate it even when their communities need the investment more than none. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is exploring ways how this can be achieved without having to get rid of the filibuster. He believes that part of the 1974 Congressional Budget Act allows the Senate to vote on the budget several times a year.
Budget reconciliation is the process that Congress used to pass the COVID-19 relief bill, the American Rescue Plan. It’s a way to bypass the filibuster by a 60 majority vote, but it’s rarely used because it takes a lot of time and there are unlimited amendments to both parties in the Senate. It was traditionally considered to be available a maximum of twice a year. The part of the Budget Act, Section 304, has not yet been used, say Schumer staff. This is new for them and for the Senate MP, the staff member who is responsible for interpreting the Senate rules and advising on what is permissible under them.
The minority leader, Mitch McConnell, has preemptively rejected the plan. “Unfortunately, it looks like it’s not going in the direction I was hoping for,” McConnell said Monday at an event in Kentucky. “My advice to the administration is: If you want to do an infrastructure bill, we do an infrastructure bill. Let’s not make a massive effort out of it to raise taxes for companies and individuals.”
Congress has decided to bring back ear tags that could potentially help get a handful of Republican votes in the House of Representatives, maybe even in the Senate. They are renaming it “member-directed funding,” a revised and more transparent way for lawmakers to designate specific funding blocks for specific projects in their own districts and states. It’s a sweetener for Republicans, but it’s not a sure-fire guarantee of votes even if they include their favorite projects in their expense accounts. But it should definitely unite the Democrats.
“It’s about jobs. It’s about investing in the industries of the future. And it’s about rebuilding parts of our communities that have long been forgotten,” said Jen Psaki, White House press secretary, on Tuesday.
Another White House official who briefed the reporters on Tuesday called it a one-time effort. It is akin to the “historic and exciting public investment programs we have had in the past” like the highway system and the space program. “This is an important moment to demonstrate that the United States and democracies can deliver for the people,” the official said. “There’s a lot at stake at this moment, the world is watching.”