U.S. Senate Moves Ahead With $550B Infrastructure Package

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Published Jul 28, 2021 11:05 PM by The Maritime Executive

After weeks of negotiations, a group of Senate Republicans and Democrats have reached agreement on a $550 billion infrastructure spending bill, and the long-discussed package is moving forward. The Senate voted 67-32 to advance the legislation, including 17 Republicans, and it will now move forward into the debate and amendment process. 

The agreed amount is less than the $579 billion package announced at the White House in June, and far less than the $2.5 trillion infrastructure and social program package that the Biden administration initially proposed earlier this year. Still, it is among the largest infrastructure investments in the U.S. in recent memory.

Its core is a $110 billion package for roads, bridges and major projects, including $40 billion for bridge repairs - the largest federal investment in bridge infrastructure since the construction of the interstate highway system.

For ports and waterways, the bill includes a $17 billion funding package for infrastructure, emissions reduction, electrification, low-carbon operations and congestion reduction. An additional $50 billion funding pool for general-purpose infrastructure resilience - to fend off climate impacts, cyberattacks and flooding - could have strong applicability for seaport needs. For waterfront businesses and ports with large Superfund sites, like the Port of Portland, the bill's $21 billion fund for environmental remediation and cleanup could provide assistance with legacy liabilities. 

Rail freight connectivity - an important consideration for American seaports, especially in today's congested cargo market - receives a smaller allocation of about $5 billion. 

The White House said that the bill would have pay-fors, including unspent emergency relief funds, corporate user fees and cryptocurrency tax enforcement. "We’re going to do it without raising taxes by one cent on people making less than $400,000 a year - no gas tax increase and no fee on electric vehicles," said President Biden in a statement. 

To move ahead, the bill will need the approval of at least 10 Republican senators to prevent a filibuster. If passed in the Senate, it will move to the Democratically-controlled House, where its fortunes are not certain. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has indicated that the bipartisan infrastructure package will not receive a vote on the House floor unless it proceeds in tandem with a far larger $3.5 trillion Senate budget package, which would pay for expanded social benefits.