CHARLESTON – The amendment phase of the $ 1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package in the US Senate is nearing completion, with a vote on the full package possible on Saturday.
Senator Shelley Moore Capito, GOP head for Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act amendments, held a virtual press briefing on Thursday.
As of Thursday morning, more than 22 amendments had been proposed to the bill since the text of the bill was finalized last weekend, with 14 amendments proposed on Wednesday alone. Capito expected more amendments on Thursday, with a possible motion to end the amendment phase on Thursday night.
With Senators attending the funeral of former Sen. Mike Enzi in Wyoming today, a vote on the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act could take place as early as Saturday. Capito said she believes the past few days have given Republican and Democratic senators many contributions on the bill.
âWe have addressed some of the issues that are of concern to members,â Capito said. âWhether it is the way to deploy the broadband money, whether it is some proposed amendments asking not to spend deficit. Many of them did not succeed. More than half of them were Republican amendments. But most of them were bipartite amendments, and that’s goodâ¦ we’re working together.
The $ 1.2 trillion package includes $ 550 billion in new infrastructure spending for a host of transportation, water and wastewater, clean energy and broadband expansion projects. According to a fact sheet released by Senator Joe Manchin, one of the main negotiators of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the state could raise nearly $ 34.8 billion over the next decade.
The bill includes a minimum of $ 100 million to help West Virginia with broadband expansion plans. Another 543,000 West Virginia, or 31% of the state’s population, would be eligible for an affordable connectivity benefit for low-income families who struggle to afford Internet service.
âWe know that we have failed to bridge the digital divide,â said Capito. “That, I think, should get us to the point where we can say we’ve come to the last house, the last business.”
Based on a funding formula, West Virginia could receive $ 3 billion in federal assistance for highways and $ 506 million for bridge replacement and repairs over the next five years. The state can also compete for up to $ 12.5 billion for the Bridge Investment Program and $ 16 billion for national transportation projects.
âThis is a major modernization of our transportation sector. Huge sums of money for West Virginia, âCapito said. âAccording to national reports, we have very bad bridges that we need to maintain and repair. We can do it. Lots of dollars here for corridor H. We know there is still mileage to go there; very difficult miles to build, but there will be hundreds of thousands of dollars to come for the H corridor. “
Capito led the first negotiations with President Joe Biden and the White House for a bipartisan infrastructure bill before negotiations shifted to a bipartisan group of senators including Manchin. Capito is also the leading Republican member of the Environment and Public Works Committee which unanimously passed two bills – one for financing transport and one for drinking water and sanitation infrastructure. – which have been incorporated into the Law on investment in infrastructure and employment.
Assuming the Senate passes the bill this weekend with the necessary 60 votes (including at least 10 Republican votes), it will still have to pass the US House of Representatives. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Said she intends to put the bill on hold until the Senate passes the $ 3.5 trillion “human infrastructure” package via the budget reconciliation process, which only requires a simple majority of 51 votes.
Capito continues to support passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and supports bill payments, which include recovery of fraudulent unemployment insurance benefits, unused COVID-19 relief dollars, and unemployment funds unused pandemics, deferral of Medicare Part D reimbursements, miscellaneous expenses and economic growth estimated at $ 56 billion due to a return on investment in Bill’s infrastructure projects.
However, Capito does not support the $ 3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package and expects no Republican in the Senate to back it either.
“As far as I’m concerned, this is the next bill to come, the $ 3.5 trillion tax and spending bill that Democrats are going to come up with,” Capito said. âThese are massive deficit spending. It won’t get paid, and I think it’s a massive tax increase as well. “
Steven Allen Adams can be contacted at [email protected]