Ag Policy Blog

Senators, Biden Reach Infrastructure Deal

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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Roads, bridges and major projects could see $109 billion in new spending under a proposal offered by a bipartisan group of senators to President Joe Biden on Thursday. The plan would boost investment in an array of infrastructure areas. (DTN file photo)

President Joe Biden appeared to reach a deal Thursday with a group of moderate senators to boost infrastructure spending in the country by about $72 billion annually with increased investments in roads, bridges, water infrastructure, broadband expansion while moving the needle on clean energy that would lower U.S. emissions.

Biden met with 10 senators -- five Democrats and five Republicans -- as he made a few brief comments on the bipartisan infrastructure compromise that the senators had agreed to support.

"We have a deal, and I think it's really important. We've all agreed that none of us got what we wanted. I clearly didn't get all I want. They gave more than I think they were inclined to give in the first place. But this reminds me of the days when we used to get an awful lot done up in the United States Congress. We actually worked to get bipartisan deals and bipartisan deals mean to compromise."

Biden had originally proposed a $2.2 trillion infrastructure plan over eight years -- the American Jobs Plan. The plan released Thursday listed about $973 billion in spending over five years, bumped up to $1.2 trillion in total infrastructure spending over eight years. All told, about $579 billion would be considered new spending for infrastructure.

Transportation projects of various sorts would garner $312 billion in new spending. That includes:

-- $109 billion for roads, bridges and major projects.

-- $66 billion would go for both passenger and freight rail projects.

-- $49 billion for public transit.

-- $25 billion for airports.

An area that draws heavy attention from agriculture because of exports is inland waterways. The framework sets aside $16 billion in additional money for various waterway projects, including port upgrades.

The president's push for infrastructure for electric vehicles led to $7.5 billion for projects such as charging stations and another $7.5 billion for electric public transit.

Beyond transportation, another $266 billion in new spending would go in various directions.

The power grid would see $73 billion in new federal investment as electric infrastructure in some major states such as California and Texas have been tested by extreme weather.

Another $55 billion would go toward various water infrastructure projects for drinking water and sewer systems. Western water storage expansion, as the region is in the midst of an extended drought, would receive $5 billion.

Broadband expansion, another major focus for rural America, would see $65 billion in additional spending over the next eight years.

Climate resiliency and environmental remediation would also see expanded funding totaling $68 billion.

Under the agreement, an infrastructure package will move forward on an expected bipartisan basis, but a separate bill will be crafted dealing with other Biden administration priorities on climate change, childcare, education, health care and other social programs. That bill would likely only advance through a budget reconciliation bill.

"They are going to move on a dual track," Biden said.

Five Republican senators -- Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Rob Portman of Ohio and Mitt Romney of Utah -- will have the task of convincing at least another five GOP senators to back the infrastructure bill.

Democratic senators -- Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona Jon Tester of Montana and Mark Warner of Virginia -- will also have to convince nearly every Democratic senator to back the bill even though at least some liberal senators have been pushing for even bigger infrastructure and social spending than Biden had proposed, and most Democrats want any package to focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Beyond differences among the two parties on spending, final details of the package have not spelled out exactly how the package will be paid for, but that also would likely be a battle to lock down votes in the Senate as well.

With the Senate moving towards an extended Independence Day break starting early next week, any bill likely would not be considered until mid- to late July.

Chris Clayton can be reached at Chris.Clayton@dtn.com

Follow him on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN

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