Washington (CNN) — Congress still has a long way to go before reaching a vote on infrastructure, but the presidente Joe Biden said this Thursday that he had reached an agreement with a bipartisan group of senators.
While many details of its content remain unclear, the total cost of the proposed deal announced Thursday is $ 1.2 trillion to be invested over eight years, with $ 579 billion in new spending, according to a fact sheet provided by the White House.
This is well below the $ 2.25 trillion plan Biden presented in March. That plan included money for roads, bridges, public transportation, airports, water and electricity systems, as well as broadband improvements. He would also have invested in the care of the American elderly and in the training of the workforce, which drew criticism from many Republicans, who wanted to limit themselves to the classic infrastructure items.
Democrats say they continue to plan to push some of the provisions that were left out of the infrastructure plan through separate legislation.
The new bipartisan proposal emerged this week after the breakdown of a previous round of negotiations bipartisan with a group of Republicans led by West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito.
This is what we know so far:
Financing of roads and bridges
The bipartisan plan includes $ 109 billion to roads, bridges and other infrastructure projects, significantly less than the US $ 159,000 million that Biden initially requested for these investments.
Money for transit and airports
The plan calls for $ 49 billion for public transportation, $ 66 billion for rail, $ 25 billion for airports and $ 16 billion for ports and inland waterways.
Improvement of water and electricity systems
Another US $ 55,000 million would be invested in water infrastructure and US $ 73,000 million in the country’s electricity structure.
Part of this money would be used to remove the country’s lead plumbing and fixtures.
Investment in broadband
The plan would provide $ 65 billion to carry out improvements in the country’s broadband system.
Initially, Biden wanted to spend $ 100 billion to make sure all Americans had reliable, high-speed Internet service. But he said he was willing to lower his request in previous negotiations with Republicans.
Investment in electric vehicles
The agreed plan includes US $ 7.5 billion to build a network of electric vehicle chargers along highways and in rural and disadvantaged communities. The goal is to install 500,000 chargers.
Another $ 7.5 billion would go to convert thousands of school buses and public transportation to electric.
How Congress Will Pay It
Full details of how the package would be paid for are not yet known, but the bipartisan proposal focuses on using unspent funds from previous aid packages, as well as proceeds from the sale of strategic oil reserves.
Lawmakers believe they could get more than $ 100 billion in unspent funds from pandemic unemployment benefits and the prosecution of fraudulent payments to the unemployed. It is debatable whether these measures bring in that much money.
At least 26 states have stated that end at least one of the pandemic unemployment benefit programs, including the federal subsidy of US $ 300 a week, to address the widespread shortage of workers. Congress extended all three programs until early September in the Democratic aid bill from US $ 1.9 trillion which was enacted in March.
Estimates of the value of unused earnings vary. The Century Foundation has put it at more than $ 22.5 billion.
Fraud related to unemployment benefits has also been a major problem since the beginning of the pandemic, as criminals focus on the more generous payments provided by the historic expansion of the country’s unemployment system by Congress.
Again, estimates vary widely. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of the Inspector General estimated in late March that at least $ 89 billion of the $ 896 billion planned in federal unemployment program funds could have been improperly paid, and that a significant portion could be attributed to fraud. The director of an identity verification company recently told Axios that up to 50% of all jobless claims, or more than $ 400 billion, could be fraudulent.
The U.S. Secret Service last month helped recover around $ 2 billion in fraudulently obtained relief funds, including unemployment benefits and business grants, and more than $ 640 million was seized from those accused of fraud, the agency reported last month.
The bipartisan proposal also calls for the reuse of $ 80 billion in covid relief funds, mainly from the March and December bailout deals.
Biden’s original plan also called for stronger enforcement against businesses to ensure they pay their fair share of taxes. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that increased funding for law enforcement would raise about $ 60 billion. Lawmakers negotiating the bipartisan agreement estimate that more than $ 100 billion would be obtained.
The deal appears to sideline Biden’s effort to pay for the plan by increasing corporate taxes. He had proposed raising the corporate tax rate to 28%, from 21%, and raising the global minimum tax rate for US companies to 21%, among other changes. Republicans, however, strongly opposed the idea.
The deal leaves out Biden’s $ 400 billion proposal to beef up care for the elderly and disabled in America, the second most important measure in his original package.
His plan would have expanded access to long-term care services under Medicaid, eliminating the waiting list for hundreds of thousands of people. It would have provided more opportunities for people to receive care at home through community-based or family-based services.
It would also have improved the wages of home health workers, who now earn about US $ 12 an hour, and put in place an infrastructure to give care workers the opportunity to join a union.
Also set aside: $ 100 billion for workforce development, which would have helped displaced workers, helped underserved groups, and put students on career paths before they graduated from high school.
–Lauren Fox, Phil Mattingly and Kate Sullivan of CNN contributed to this report.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism