(Updates with Senate return and Schumer’s quote on outlook)
By Richard Cowan
WASHINGTON, July 12 (Reuters) – The US Senate reverted to one of its most ambitious agendas in years on Monday as Democratic President Joe Biden seeks billions of dollars in infrastructure spending and Republicans promise ” a hell of a fight “against increasing taxes to pay for it.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer opened the Senate after a two-week recess on July 4, saying progress was being made on a $ 1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure plan https: // www .reuters.com / world / us / whats-us-senates- 12-trillion-infrastructure-plan-2021-06-24 and the first step towards another measure that would pass with only Democratic votes.
But given the 50-50 split in the Senate, it was uncertain whether the Democratic leader could meet his goal of passing both measures by August.
“If and when we are successful, the benefits will ripple across the country for generations to come,” Schumer said.
Last week, Schumer’s Republican counterpart, Mitch McConnell, pledged a “hell of a fight” over the partisan and Democratic initiative while leaving open the possibility of his support for the emerging bipartisan bill.
Negotiators were still discussing ways to fund the $ 1.2 trillion price tag of this latest move https://www.reuters.com/world/us/democrats-set-24-hour-target-bipartisan-us-infrastructure -deal-2021-06-23, according to lawmakers and congressional advisers.
Adding to the complexity, Congress could find itself embroiled in a potentially divisive debate over raising the statutory limit on U.S. borrowing authority, which expires in late July.
While the Treasury Department should be able to manage several weeks beyond the July 31 deadline, global financial markets will become increasingly nervous about a possible United States default on its more debt. the question is not resolved.
Democrats control both houses of Congress by very thin margins and can only afford to lose a few votes in the House of Representatives and none in the Senate if they are to succeed. They see the infrastructure package as potentially the most important legislation to pass ahead of next year’s election, which will determine congressional control for the second half of Biden’s four-year term.
The bipartite deal would fund the reconstruction of roads, bridges and other traditional infrastructure projects and bring high-speed internet service to more rural areas.
He received a boost last week from the Problem Solvers Caucus, a group of Democratic and Republican lawmakers.
McConnell said there was “a decent chance” that the bipartisan bill could gain traction, but warned the spending had to be funded somehow without adding to the national debt.
‘NOT THE RIGHT THING’
Speaking at public events in his home state of Kentucky last week, McConnell kept his grim assessments for tax hikes in other infrastructure legislation Democrats are expected to produce in addition to the draft. bipartite law.
“It’s going to be a hell of a fight. … It’s not the right thing to do for the country,” McConnell warned as he attacked Biden’s plans for possible tax increases on corporations and the wealthy. to help finance the cost of certain infrastructure investments.
One measure, to be worked out sometime before the August recess begins, would simply provide the technical framework to impose on the Senate – without the support of Republicans – a second, larger infrastructure measure.
This Democrats-only plan would require a maneuver called “reconciliation https://www.reuters.com/world/us/us-senates-reconciliation-process-its-not-way-it-sounds-2021-06-16” which bypass Senate rules requiring 60 votes to pass most laws.
The big package is set to be the last major piece of Biden’s freshman legislative dreams: a partisan “human infrastructure” bill in the fall to invest huge sums to deal with climate change, while expanding educational opportunities across the United States and home health care for the elderly and others.
McConnell has attacked these initiatives and hopes to generate opposition from some moderate Democrats.
Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders, a leading Liberal, is seeking up to $ 6 trillion in new investment, while other more moderate Democrats on his panel want less.
Corporate lobbyists, along with Republicans, were already making plans to thwart the https://reut.rs/3AMBeKw initiative, arguing that tax increases would hurt a U.S. economy emerging from the rubble of the pandemic of COVID-19.
Meanwhile, Democrats of all political stripes will try to attach important provisions to their constituents. Progressives are calling for a temporary extension of a child tax credit to be turned into a permanent benefit. And, lawmakers in heavily Democratic states with high taxes are insisting that the cap on state and local tax deductions, which was included in a 2017 Republican tax law, be relaxed.
With the Democrats ‘very slim majorities in Congress, party leaders in both chambers will have to heed each of their members’ demands or risk losing enough support for one of these bills to pass.
(Reporting by Richard Cowan; additional reporting by Susan Cornwell; editing by Scott Malone and Jonathan Oatis)