US senators are making final amendments to the infrastructure bill this week

US senators are making final amendments to the infrastructure bill, which is expected to pass this week

ON SUNDAY, the US Senate finalized legislation to advance a sweeping $1 trillion spending plan for roads, rail, high-speed internet, and other infrastructure. Some senators expect final approval later this week.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the text "is being finalized soon" and that the Senate could soon begin voting on all relevant amendments and finalize the bill "within days."

The massive infrastructure package is one of President Joe Biden's top legislative priorities. It will be the most significant investment in roads, bridges, ports, and transit in the United States in decades.

It includes $550 billion in new spending in addition to $450 billion in previously approved funds. It will provide money to replace lead water pipes and build a network of electric vehicle charging stations.

Senator John Tester, a lead Democratic negotiator on the legislation, told reporters that one potential holdup is a pay-related clause. Democrats want to include a decades-old law that would require contractors to pay prevailing wages — usually higher levels set by unions — on projects funded by the legislation.

Senator Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, told CNN she believed at least 10 Republicans would support the measure, enabling it to remove a 60-vote procedural hurdle.

"I hope we can finish the bill by the end of the week," Collins said, adding that the measure was "good for America."

The final text — including detailed provisions to pay for it — will determine whether a large bipartisan majority in the closely divided Senate can hold. Senators have so far backed a mock version of the legislation in a procedural vote, including a margin of 66-28 on Friday that includes 16 Republicans. 

White House economic adviser Brian Dees spoke of the bill before revealing its final provisions as "highly needed investments in our economy" that could help ease supply bottlenecks contributing to inflation.

"This will facilitate the flow of goods and services. It will lower prices in the long run," Deiss said on "Fox News Sunday."

But Democrats tied the "hard" infrastructure bill to a much larger $3.5 trillion "reconciliation" budget bill that would boost spending on education, child care, climate change, and other party priorities.

In remarks to the Senate, Schumer said that once the infrastructure bill is passed, he will continue a budget resolution that would allow "reconciliation" rules to be used for these investments -- allowing Democrats to pass them by only a simple majority without Republican support.

Democrats want to offset social spending with tax increases for corporations and wealthy Americans who earn more than $400,000 a year — measures Republicans oppose.

Senator Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat whose support is central to the party's spending plans, said that while the infrastructure bill should have strong support, he could not guarantee the reconciliation bill would pass.

He said both plans need to be paid in full to avoid dangerously accumulating debt.

"Let's see if the push is real," he said, adding that while he could support some tax increases, he was concerned about making the US economy uncompetitive.

Some Democratic progressives, particularly in the House of Representatives, have also pointed out that trillion-dollar packages are insufficient. The Senate may impose changes likely to complicate its chances of becoming law.

The Democrats' majority in both the Senate and the House is very slim, which requires the party to hold together to achieve its legislative goals.

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