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Senate Advances Trillion Dollar Bipartisan “Physical” Infrastructure Deal as Democrats Push Separate $3.5 Trillion “Human” Infrastructure Package

  • July 30, 2021

Capitol building sun and green

The Senate on July 28 voted to advance a $1 trillion infrastructure package that would allocate $550 billion in new spending toward transit, utilities and broadband. The plan, which has not been translated into final legislation yet, was the result of a breakthrough in month-long negotiations between a bipartisan group of senators and President Biden. (White House Fact Sheet, July 28 | E&E Daily, July 29 | Roundtable Weekly, June 25) 

Historic Step Forward 

  • The Senate vote of 67-32 included the support of 17 Republicans and all 50 Democrats – and kick-started the process of debating and amending the measure, which could draw enough support to pass the Senate next week. (BGov, July 29)

  • Real Estate Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer yesterday stated, “The Real Estate Roundtable strongly supports the bipartisan agreement on infrastructure reached by the White House and senators this week – and we applaud the continued hard work of policymakers to work across the aisle to create legislation that will revitalize our economy and keep us globally competitive. The trillion-dollar+ infrastructure package is a positive, historic step forward. We look forward to its enactment and the well-paying jobs it will create, the economic growth it will spur on, and how it will benefit our long-term national competitiveness and productivity.” (Read DeBoer’s full statement, July 29)

  • Roundtable Chair John Fish (Chairman & CEO, Suffolk) and 11 other Roundtable members joined more than 100 business leaders in a July 26 letter to Congress that urged policymakers to pass the bipartisan infrastructure package. (The Hill, July 28)

  • The letter noted, “New jobs generated by investment in the nation’s mass transit, roads, bridges, airports, broadband and other essential assets will create training and re-employment opportunities for millions of Americans who lost jobs during the pandemic. The public-private initiatives that are created will accelerate recovery from losses suffered due to COVID-19.” (Business leaders’ joint letter, July 26) 

Infrastructure Package & CRE 

Philly evening bridge

Pay-Fors & Timing 

Sen. Chuck Schumer Hudson Yards Subway station
  • Miller & Chevalier reported on July 28 that the bipartisan plan’s wide-ranging infrastructure investments would be paid from a variety of sources, including: 

    • certain unused COVID relief dollars;
    • certain states returning unused federal unemployment insurance aid; 
    • sales of future spectrum auctions;
    • extending fees on GSEs; economic growth resulting from a 33 percent return on investment in long-term infrastructure projects; and 
    • information reporting requirements related to cryptocurrency.

  • Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), above, would need 60 votes in the upper chamber to avoid a Republican filibuster and pass the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Those votes would likely come from all 50 members of his caucus and at least 10 Republicans. (PoliticoPro, July 29)

  • “My goal remains to pass both the bipartisan infrastructure bill and a budget resolution during this work period. Both,” he said. “It might take some long nights. It might eat into our weekends. But we are going to get the job done, and we are on track.” Although the Senate’s recess is scheduled to start Aug. 9, Schumer has said he could keep the chamber in session longer to pass the measures. (New York Times, July 29)  

“Human” Infrastructure Package 

DC monuments night
  • The Biden administration’s separate $3.5 trillion “human infrastructure” plan to invest in child care, paid leave, education and measures to curb climate change is traveling along a parallel budget “reconciliation” path – a process that would require the vote of every Senate Democrat to pass the bill without any Republican votes. (CNBC, July 29)

  • Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on July 28 said he has the 50 votes to pass a broad budget resolution next week that would lead to consideration of the package, according to Bloomberg. Sanders added, “It is my absolute conviction that you’re not going to have a bipartisan bill unless you have a reconciliation bill of $3.5 trillion.”

  • However, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) – the lead Democratic negotiator on the bipartisan infrastructure bill – this week told the Arizona Republic, “I have also made clear that while I will support beginning this process, I do not support a (reconciliation) bill that costs $3.5 trillion – and in the coming months, I will work in good faith to develop this legislation with my colleagues and the administration to strengthen Arizona's economy and help Arizona's everyday families get ahead.” (CNN, July 28) 

In the House of Representatives, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has insisted she will not consider either the infrastructure bill or budget measure until the Senate passes both. (CNBC, July 29) 

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