Senate passes massive bipartisan infrastructure package

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Veronica Rocha, Melissa Mahtani and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 2:43 PM ET, Wed August 11, 2021
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10:06 a.m. ET, August 10, 2021

Here's how Congress plans to pay for the infrastructure proposal

From CNN's Katie Lobosco and Tami Luhby

The White House and Congress have been looking at a multitude of measures that would pay for the infrastructure proposal.

But while lawmakers claim the bill pays for itself, the CBO score found it would instead add billions of dollars to the deficit over 10 years.

The bottom line is that the legislation would directly add roughly $350 billion to the deficit, when taking into account $90 billion of spending in new contract authority, said Marc Goldwein, senior vice president at the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a nonpartisan group that tracks federal spending.

The CBO brushed aside several major provisions that lawmakers said would help pay for the bill, such as repurposing certain unused Covid relief funds and using the savings generated by certain states terminating pandemic unemployment benefits early. The agency found these measures would provide roughly $22 billion in savings, rather than the roughly $263 billion claimed by lawmakers, Goldwein said.

Also, the report found that the Federal Communications Commission's spectrum auctions would generate far less than the $87 billion originally claimed by lawmakers.

The CBO also said that the bill would raise about $50 billion by imposing new Superfund fees and changing the tax reporting requirements for cryptocurrencies, among other measures.

According to the bill text and the 57-page summary of the bill released earlier this month, lawmakers leaned heavily on repurposing unused Covid relief funds to pay for the legislation. The bill text lists savings from rescinding unobligated appropriations for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program for small businesses and nonprofit groups, the Paycheck Protection Program, the Education Stabilization Fund and relief for airline workers, among others.

Another item in the bill text is $53 billion that stems in part from states opting to terminate the pandemic unemployment benefits early to push the jobless to return to work. Some 26 states announced that they would stop at least one of the federal unemployment programs before they are set to end in early September — though Indiana and Maryland have had to continue the payments after losing court battles. Also, the Congressional Budget Office reduced its forecast for the unemployment rate because of the improving economy.

More savings would come from delaying a controversial Trump administration rule that would radically change how drugs are priced and paid for in Medicare and Medicaid until 2026, at the earliest. The measure would effectively ban drug makers from providing rebates to pharmacy benefit managers and insurers. Instead, drug companies would be encouraged to pass the discounts directly to patients at the pharmacy counter. It is currently expected to go into effect in 2023. The summary lists the savings as $49 billion and the CBO report as nearly $51 billion.

Also, the infrastructure proposal relies on generating $56 billion in economic growth resulting from a 33% return on investment on the long-term projects, according to the summary.

Biden said in a statement that the bill won't raise taxes on people making less than $400,000 a year and does not include a gas tax increase or fee on electric vehicles. He initially called for raising taxes on corporations to fund the infrastructure investments — but that proposal did not make it into the latest package after strong opposition from Republicans.

9:41 a.m. ET, August 10, 2021

Biden is expected to deliver remarks after Senate vote on infrastructure

From CNN's Jeff Zeleny

President Biden is planning to leave Wilmington on Tuesday morning and be at the White House for the Senate vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill, two officials say.

The President is poised to deliver a speech — either in the Rose Garden or inside the White House, depending on the weather — to mark the expected passage of a key piece of his economic agenda.

As CNN's Manu Raju has reported, the timing is expected to be during the daylight hours, rather than overnight. This is in coordination with Schumer and the West Wing. Biden wants to take a bit of a victory lap — even though the two-part deal is far from the finish — as the White House tries to shore up his support in August.

10:10 a.m. ET, August 10, 2021

The Senate is set to hold a final vote today on the bipartisan infrastructure bill. Here's what is in it.

From CNN's Katie Lobosco and Tami Luhby

The US Capitol in Washington, DC, on August 8, 2021.
The US Capitol in Washington, DC, on August 8, 2021. Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

The bipartisan infrastructure bill is expected to face a final vote in the Senate this morning after months of negotiations.

In total, the deal includes $550 billion in new federal investments in America's infrastructure over five years. However, the package would add $256 billion to the deficit over the next 10 years, the Congressional Budget Office said in a report released Thursday.

Once senators vote on the legislation, they will then send it to the House for approval before the bill heads to President Biden's desk.

Here's what we know so far about the latest version of the agreement, according to the CBO report, the bill text, as well as a fact sheet provided by the White House and a 57-page summary released earlier this month.

  • Funding for roads and bridges: The deal calls for investing $110 billion for roads, bridges and major infrastructure projects, according to the summary. That's about the same amount agreed to in a bipartisan bill in June but significantly less than the $159 billion that Biden initially requested in the American Jobs Plan.
  • Money for transit and rail: The package would provide $39 billion to modernize public transit, according to the bill text. That's less than the $49 billion contained in the earlier bipartisan deal and the $85 billion that Biden initially wanted to invest in modernizing transit systems and help them expand to meet rider demand.
  • Broadband upgrade: The bill would provide a $65 billion investment in improving the nation's broadband infrastructure, according to the bill text. Biden initially wanted to invest $100 billion in broadband. It also aims to help lower the price households pay for internet service by requiring federal funding recipients to offer a low-cost affordable plan, by creating price transparency and by boosting competition in areas where existing providers aren't providing adequate service. It would also create a permanent federal program to help more low-income households access the internet, according to the White House fact sheet.
  • Upgrading airports, ports and waterways: The deal would invest $17 billion in port infrastructure and $25 billion in airports to address repair and maintenance backlogs, reduce congestion and emissions near ports and airports and promote electrification and other low-carbon technologies, according to the White House. It is similar to the funding in the bipartisan deal and Biden's original proposal.
  • Electric vehicles: The bill would provide $7.5 billion for zero- and low-emission buses and ferries, aiming to deliver thousands of electric school buses to districts across the country, according to the White House. Another $7.5 billion would go to building a nationwide network of plug-in electric vehicle chargers, according to the bill text.
  • Improving power and water systems: The bill would invest $73 billion to rebuild the electric grid, according to the bill text. It calls for building thousands of miles of new power lines and expanding renewable energy, the White House said. It would provide $55 billion to upgrade water infrastructure, according to the bill text. It would replace lead service lines and pipes so that communities have access to clean drinking water, the White House said. Another $50 billion would go toward making the system more resilient — protecting it from drought, floods and cyber attacks, the White House said.
  • Environmental remediation: The bill would provide $21 billion to clean up Superfund and brownfield sites, reclaim abandoned mine land and cap orphaned gas wells, according to the White House.

Read more about the bill here.