The U.S. Senate will begin working on a bipartisan infrastructure deal after a vote of 67-32 in favor of debating the bill. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has indicated that they aim to complete their work on the bill prior to the August recess. The $1.2 trillion infrastructure package will cover costs over a period of eight years and includes $559 billion in new spending.
“I am pleased to join a bipartisan group of United States Senators and announce our deal to make the most significant long-term investment in our infrastructure and competitiveness in nearly a century,” President Joe Biden said in a news release. “This deal signals to the world that our democracy can function, deliver, and do big things. As we did with the transcontinental railroad and the interstate highway, we will once again transform America and propel us into the future.”
One of the most substantial provisions of the infrastructure deal is the support for enhancing broadband capacity. The bill allocates $65 billion for increasing broadband access, significantly less than the $100 billion President Biden had initially sought. A total of $40 billion in funding would be directed toward individual states for projects to further broadband access in unserved and underserved areas. Minimum standards of downstream speeds of 100 megabits per second with 20 megabits per second upstream speeds would be established. The federal government would also be required to develop a website for consumers to check their eligibility for low-cost broadband.
The bulk of the funding, $110 billion, will be directed towards the repair, replacement, and refurbishment of roads and bridges. An additional $17 billion would be used to support improvements to port infrastructure. Enhancements to the electric grid and power structures would receive $73 billion in funding support. Issues of rail services would also be addressed with $66 billion.