Bipartisan infrastructure bill advances but future uncertain
In This Section
August 13, 2021
By Kevin Bommer, CML executive director, and Angelina Panettieri, NLC legislative director of information technology and communications
Recently, the U.S. Senate voted to move forward on the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. In the days since the vote to proceed, numerous Senate floor amendments have been prepared and many will be considered before the legislation advances, which it is expected to do.
If enacted, the bill would make significant investments in the nation’s transportation, water, and broadband infrastructure systems. This bill is a result of the lengthy negotiation between the Senate and the White House, and Sen. John Hickenlooper was part of the bipartisan group of 22 senators at the center of the negotiations.
However, the legislation is likely to stall in the House once it passes the Senate, casting doubt on when it might ultimately pass or if the entire effort will be scuttled due to political disagreements over how much to spend. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has indicated she will hold the bill unless a separate budget reconciliation bill that includes significantly more infrastructure spending goes along with it.
There is concern over the price tag of a reconciliation package (estimated at about $3.5 trillion) among Senate Republicans and moderate Senate Democrats, and one of the latter – Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) – said in a written statement that she will not vote for the bill. With a 50-50 split in the Senate, the reconciliation bill might not advance and Speaker Pelosi would be forced to choose between moving forward without a reconciliation package, which would contain key policy objectives for President Biden, or holding off on the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that has bipartisan support.
While not every priority of municipalities was included in the bipartisan agreement, the National League of Cities (NLC) and its allies, including CML and other state leagues, have successfully advocated for the inclusion of many programs and policies that could benefit cities, towns, and villages. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act includes $550 billion in new federal investments in America’s infrastructure and will add, on average, 2 million jobs per year to the national economy.
NLC and CML will provide full details of the bipartisan legislation once it passes the Senate. Also included will be any prognosis available for when and if the House might take up the legislation, as well as whether leadership will continue to insist on a