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    Biden's Infrastructure Plan: Scarcity of Skilled Workers Poses Challenge

    One estimate says the bill would add $1.4 trillion to the U.S. economy over eight years, but without enough workers, efforts to strengthen roads and public transit could be set back.WASHINGTON — The infrastructure bill that President Biden hopes to get through Congress is supposed to create jobs and spur projects for companies like Anchor Construction, which specializes in repairing aging bridges and roadways in the nation’s capital.But with baby boomers aging out of the work force and not enough young people to replace them, John M. Irvine, a senior vice president at Anchor, worries there will not be enough workers to hire for all those new projects.“I’d be surprised if there’s any firm out there saying they’re ready for this,” said Mr. Irvine, whose company is hiring about a dozen skilled laborers, pipe layers and concrete finishers. If the bill passes Congress, he said, the company will most likely have to double the amount it is hiring.“We will have to staff up,” Mr. Irvine said. “And no, there are not enough skilled workers to fill these jobs.”Mr. Biden has hailed the $1 trillion infrastructure bill as a way to create millions of jobs, but as the country faces a dire shortage of skilled workers, researchers and economists say companies may find it difficult to fill all of those positions.The bill could generate new jobs in industries critical to keeping the nation’s public works systems running, such as construction, transportation and energy. S&P Global Ratings estimated that the bill would lift productivity and economic growth, adding $1.4 trillion to the U.S. economy over eight years. But if there is not enough labor to keep up with the demand, efforts to strengthen the nation’s highways, bridges and public transit could be set back.“Do we have the work force ready right now to take care of this? Absolutely not,” said Beverly Scott, the vice chair of the President’s National Infrastructure Advisory Council..css-1xzcza9{list-style-type:disc;padding-inline-start:1em;}.css-3btd0c{font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size:1rem;line-height:1.375rem;color:#333;margin-bottom:0.78125rem;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-3btd0c{font-size:1.0625rem;line-height:1.5rem;margin-bottom:0.9375rem;}}.css-3btd0c strong{font-weight:600;}.css-3btd0c em{font-style:italic;}.css-1kpebx{margin:0 auto;font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.125rem;line-height:1.3125rem;color:#121212;}#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-1kpebx{font-family:nyt-cheltenham,georgia,’times new roman’,times,serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.375rem;line-height:1.625rem;}@media (min-width:740px){#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-1kpebx{font-size:1.6875rem;line-height:1.875rem;}}@media (min-width:740px){.css-1kpebx{font-size:1.25rem;line-height:1.4375rem;}}.css-1gtxqqv{margin-bottom:0;}.css-19zsuqr{display:block;margin-bottom:0.9375rem;}.css-12vbvwq{background-color:white;border:1px solid #e2e2e2;width:calc(100% – 40px);max-width:600px;margin:1.5rem auto 1.9rem;padding:15px;box-sizing:border-box;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-12vbvwq{padding:20px;width:100%;}}.css-12vbvwq:focus{outline:1px solid #e2e2e2;}#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-12vbvwq{border:none;padding:10px 0 0;border-top:2px solid #121212;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-rdoyk0{-webkit-transform:rotate(0deg);-ms-transform:rotate(0deg);transform:rotate(0deg);}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-eb027h{max-height:300px;overflow:hidden;-webkit-transition:none;transition:none;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-5gimkt:after{content:’See more’;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-6mllg9{opacity:1;}.css-qjk116{margin:0 auto;overflow:hidden;}.css-qjk116 strong{font-weight:700;}.css-qjk116 em{font-style:italic;}.css-qjk116 a{color:#326891;-webkit-text-decoration:underline;text-decoration:underline;text-underline-offset:1px;-webkit-text-decoration-thickness:1px;text-decoration-thickness:1px;-webkit-text-decoration-color:#326891;text-decoration-color:#326891;}.css-qjk116 a:visited{color:#326891;-webkit-text-decoration-color:#326891;text-decoration-color:#326891;}.css-qjk116 a:hover{-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;}A recent U.S. Chamber of Commerce survey found that 88 percent of commercial construction contractors reported moderate-to-high levels of difficulty finding skilled workers, and more than a third had to turn down work because of labor deficiencies. The industry could face a shortage of at least two million workers through 2025, according to an estimate from Construction Industry Resources, a data firm in Kentucky.The pandemic has compounded labor shortages, as sectors like construction see a boom in home projects with more people teleworking and moving to the suburbs. Contractors have also faced a scarcity of supplies as prices soared for products like lumber and steel.Job openings in construction have picked up at a rapid clip after the sector lost more than one million jobs at the beginning of the pandemic. According to an Associated Builders and Contractors analysis, construction job openings have increased by 12 percent from prepandemic levels. But the sector is still down about 232,000 jobs from February 2020, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.The issue underscores a perennial challenge for the skilled trades. Not enough young people are entering the sectors, a concern for companies as older workers retire from construction, carpentry and plumbing jobs. And although many skilled trade positions have competitive wages and lower educational barriers to entry, newer generations tend to see a four-year college degree as the default path to success.Infrastructure workers tend to be older than average, raising concerns about workers retiring and leaving behind difficult-to-fill positions. The median age of construction and building inspectors, for instance, is 53, compared with 42.5 for all workers nationwide. Only 10 percent of infrastructure workers are under 25, while 13 percent of all U.S. workers are in that age group, according to a Brookings Institution analysis.“The challenge is, how are we going to replace — not just grow, but replace — many of the workers who are retiring or leaving jobs?” said Joseph W. Kane, a fellow at the Brookings Institution. “​A lot of people, especially younger people, just aren’t even aware that these jobs exist.”Community colleges, which offer a variety of vocational training programs, have suffered steep declines in enrollment. A recent estimate from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center found that community colleges were the hardest hit among all colleges, with enrollment declining by 9.5 percent this spring. More than 65 percent of the total undergraduate enrollment losses this spring occurred at community colleges, according to the report.John M. Irvine, a senior vice president at Anchor Construction, worries there will not be enough workers to hire for new projects.Alyssa Schukar for The New York TimesNicholas Kadavy, a third-generation mason who owns Nebraska Masonry in Lincoln, Neb., has seen his workload triple since April. He said his company had already scheduled out work until June 2022.He wants to hire more skilled masons to finish the projects sooner, but he can’t find enough people to fill the dozen positions he has open, even though he is willing to pay up to $50 an hour — twice what he offered before the pandemic. He checks his email daily, waiting for more applications to come in.“My biggest struggle is finding guys that want to work,” Mr. Kadavy said.Even when he does hear from applicants, Mr. Kadavy said, he is unable to hire many of them because they are not qualified enough. He was already seeing a shortage of skilled masons before the pandemic, he said, and he worries that the craft is “dying” because newer generations are not pursuing the field.The nation’s public transit systems would receive $39 billion under the infrastructure bill, allowing agencies to expand service and upgrade decades-old infrastructure. But transit agencies are dealing with worker shortages of their own, facing a dearth of bus drivers, subway operators and maintenance technicians.Metro Transit in Minneapolis is trying to hire about 100 bus drivers by the end of the year, said Brian Funk, the agency’s acting chief operating officer. The agency had originally aimed to hire 70 workers by the end of June, but it met only about half of that goal.Although he is optimistic that the agency will be able to fill those remaining positions after ramping up efforts to promote the openings, he said he was still wary about some workers choosing to leave.“We know that every day that goes by, there’s the potential that somebody else is looking at either retirement or another job,” Mr. Funk said.Some are optimistic that policymakers will be able to scale up work force development programs to keep up with the demand the infrastructure bill would create. Projects could take several months to get started, economists said, giving the country time to train workers who are not yet qualified.“These problems are not insurmountable,” said Nicole Smith, the chief economist at the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. “Not having a sufficiently trained work force is something that can be addressed.”But others are worried that the bill does not do enough to draw more people into infrastructure fields, especially historically underrepresented groups like women and people of color. Although Mr. Biden originally proposed a $100 billion investment in work force development, that funding was left out in the latest version of the bipartisan infrastructure bill. The funding would have invested in job training for formerly incarcerated people and created millions of registered apprenticeships, among other things.Last week, the National Skills Coalition and more than 500 other organizations sent a letter to congressional leadership calling on it to include the funding in a separate reconciliation bill.“President Biden promised that economic recovery was going to be predicated on equity,” said Andy Van Kleunen, the chief executive of the National Skills Coalition. “Work force training has to be part of that answer.” More

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    India’s Economic Figures Belie Covid-19’s Toll

    Strong results compared with last year’s performance mask lingering weaknesses that could hold back needed job creation.NEW DELHI — The coronavirus continues to batter India’s damaged economy, putting growing pressure on Prime Minister Narendra Modi to nurture a nascent recovery and get the country back to work.The coronavirus, which has struck in two waves, has killed hundreds of thousands of people and at times has brought cities to a halt. Infections and deaths have eased, and the country is returning to work. Economists predict that growth could surge in the second half of the year on paper.Still, the damage could take years to undo. Economic output was 9.2 percent lower for the April-through-June period this year than what it was for the same period in 2019, according to India Ratings, a credit ratings agency.The coronavirus has essentially robbed India of much of the momentum it needed to provide jobs for its young and fast-growing work force. It has also exacerbated longer-term problems that were already dragging down growth, such as high debt, a lack of competitiveness with other countries and policy missteps.Economists are particularly concerned about the slow rate of vaccinations and the possibility of a third wave of the coronavirus, which could prove to be disastrous for any economic recovery.“Vaccination progress remains slow,” with just 11 percent of the population fully inoculated so far, Priyanka Kishore, the head of India and Southeast Asia at Oxford Economics, said in a research briefing last week. The firm lowered its growth rate for 2021 to 8.8 percent, from 9.1 percent.Even growth of 8.8 percent would be a strong number in better times. Compared with the prior year, India’s economy grew 20.1 percent April through June, according to estimates released Tuesday evening by the Ministry of Statistics and Program Implementation.But those comparisons benefit from comparison with India’s dismal performance last year. The economy shrank 7.3 percent last year, when the government shut down the economy to stop a first wave of the coronavirus. That led to big job losses, now among the biggest hurdles holding back growth, experts say.The coronavirus continues to batter India’s damaged economy, putting growing pressure on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.Money Sharma/Agence France-Presse — Getty ImagesReal household incomes have fallen further this year, said Mahesh Vyas, the chief executive of the Center for Monitoring Indian Economy. “Till this is not repaired,” he said, “the Indian economy can’t bounce back.”At least 3.2 million Indians lost stable, well-paying salaried jobs in July alone, Mr. Vyas estimated. Small traders and daily wage laborers suffered bigger job losses during the lockdowns than others, though they were able to go back to work once the restrictions were lifted, Mr. Vyas said in a report this month.“Salaried jobs are not similarly elastic,” he said. “It is difficult to retrieve a lost salaried job.”About 10 million people have lost such jobs since the beginning of the pandemic, Mr. Vyas said.Mr. Modi’s government moved this month to rekindle the economy by selling stakes worth close to $81 billion in state-owned assets like airports, railway stations and stadiums. But economists largely see the policy as a move to generate cash in the short term. It remains to be seen if it will lead to more investment, they say.“The whole idea is that the government will borrow this money from the domestic market,” said Devendra Kumar Pant, the chief economist at India Ratings. “But what happens if this project goes to a domestic player and he is having to borrow in the domestic market? Your credit demand domestically won’t change.”Dr. Pant added that questions remained about how willing private players would be to maintain those assets long term and how the monetization policy would ultimately affect prices for consumers..css-1xzcza9{list-style-type:disc;padding-inline-start:1em;}.css-3btd0c{font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size:1rem;line-height:1.375rem;color:#333;margin-bottom:0.78125rem;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-3btd0c{font-size:1.0625rem;line-height:1.5rem;margin-bottom:0.9375rem;}}.css-3btd0c strong{font-weight:600;}.css-3btd0c em{font-style:italic;}.css-w739ur{margin:0 auto 5px;font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.125rem;line-height:1.3125rem;color:#121212;}#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-w739ur{font-family:nyt-cheltenham,georgia,’times new roman’,times,serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.375rem;line-height:1.625rem;}@media (min-width:740px){#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-w739ur{font-size:1.6875rem;line-height:1.875rem;}}@media (min-width:740px){.css-w739ur{font-size:1.25rem;line-height:1.4375rem;}}.css-9s9ecg{margin-bottom:15px;}.css-16ed7iq{width:100%;display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-align-items:center;-webkit-box-align:center;-ms-flex-align:center;align-items:center;-webkit-box-pack:center;-webkit-justify-content:center;-ms-flex-pack:center;justify-content:center;padding:10px 0;background-color:white;}.css-pmm6ed{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-align-items:center;-webkit-box-align:center;-ms-flex-align:center;align-items:center;}.css-pmm6ed > :not(:first-child){margin-left:5px;}.css-5gimkt{font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size:0.8125rem;font-weight:700;-webkit-letter-spacing:0.03em;-moz-letter-spacing:0.03em;-ms-letter-spacing:0.03em;letter-spacing:0.03em;text-transform:uppercase;color:#333;}.css-5gimkt:after{content:’Collapse’;}.css-rdoyk0{-webkit-transition:all 0.5s ease;transition:all 0.5s ease;-webkit-transform:rotate(180deg);-ms-transform:rotate(180deg);transform:rotate(180deg);}.css-eb027h{max-height:5000px;-webkit-transition:max-height 0.5s ease;transition:max-height 0.5s ease;}.css-6mllg9{-webkit-transition:all 0.5s ease;transition:all 0.5s ease;position:relative;opacity:0;}.css-6mllg9:before{content:”;background-image:linear-gradient(180deg,transparent,#ffffff);background-image:-webkit-linear-gradient(270deg,rgba(255,255,255,0),#ffffff);height:80px;width:100%;position:absolute;bottom:0px;pointer-events:none;}.css-uf1ume{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-box-pack:justify;-webkit-justify-content:space-between;-ms-flex-pack:justify;justify-content:space-between;}.css-wxi1cx{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-flex-direction:column;-ms-flex-direction:column;flex-direction:column;-webkit-align-self:flex-end;-ms-flex-item-align:end;align-self:flex-end;}.css-12vbvwq{background-color:white;border:1px solid #e2e2e2;width:calc(100% – 40px);max-width:600px;margin:1.5rem auto 1.9rem;padding:15px;box-sizing:border-box;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-12vbvwq{padding:20px;width:100%;}}.css-12vbvwq:focus{outline:1px solid #e2e2e2;}#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-12vbvwq{border:none;padding:10px 0 0;border-top:2px solid #121212;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-rdoyk0{-webkit-transform:rotate(0deg);-ms-transform:rotate(0deg);transform:rotate(0deg);}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-eb027h{max-height:300px;overflow:hidden;-webkit-transition:none;transition:none;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-5gimkt:after{content:’See more’;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-6mllg9{opacity:1;}.css-qjk116{margin:0 auto;overflow:hidden;}.css-qjk116 strong{font-weight:700;}.css-qjk116 em{font-style:italic;}.css-qjk116 a{color:#326891;-webkit-text-decoration:underline;text-decoration:underline;text-underline-offset:1px;-webkit-text-decoration-thickness:1px;text-decoration-thickness:1px;-webkit-text-decoration-color:#326891;text-decoration-color:#326891;}.css-qjk116 a:visited{color:#326891;-webkit-text-decoration-color:#326891;text-decoration-color:#326891;}.css-qjk116 a:hover{-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;}“In India, things will decay for the worse rather than improve,” he said, adding that the costs to users of highways and other infrastructure could go up.During the second wave in May, Mr. Modi resisted calls by many epidemiologists, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, to reinstitute a nationwide lockdown.At a vaccination site in India in June. Economists are particularly concerned about the slow rate of vaccinations and the possibility of a third wave of the coronavirus.Saumya Khandelwal for The New York TimesThe lockdowns in 2021 were nowhere near as severe as the nationwide curbs last year, which pushed millions of people out of cities and into rural areas, often on foot because rail and other transportation had been suspended.Throughout the second wave, core infrastructure projects across the country, which employ millions of domestic migrant workers, were exempted from restrictions. More than 15,000 miles of Indian highway projects, along with rail and city metro improvements, continued.On Tuesday, Dr. Pant said India’s growth estimates of 20.1 percent for the April-through-June period were nothing but an “illusion.” Growth contracted so sharply around the same period last year, by a record 24 percent, that even double-digit gains this year would leave the economy behind where it was two years ago.Economists say India needs to spend, even splurge, to unlock the full potential of its huge low-skilled work force. “There is a need for very simple primary health facilities, primary services to deliver nutrition to children,” Mr. Vyas said. “All these are highly labor intensive jobs, and these are government services largely.”One of the reasons Indian governments typically have not spent in those areas, Mr. Vyas said, is that it has been considered “not a sexy thing to do.” Another is the governments’ “dogmatic fixation” with keeping fiscal deficits in control, he said. The government simply can’t rely on private sector alone for creating jobs, Mr. Vyas said.The “only solution,” he said, is for the government to spend and spur private investment. “You have a de-motivated private sector because there isn’t enough demand. That’s what’s holding India back.” More

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    As Infrastructure Bill Nears Key Vote, Deficit Takes Back Seat

    Many Republicans are disregarding the deficit impact for the sprawling infrastructure bill, but intend to change course for looming battles on social spending and the debt ceiling.WASHINGTON — The bipartisan shrug that greeted the news that the Senate’s infrastructure bill contains $256 billion worth of deficit spending marked a new moment in the post-Trump era, one that highlighted how deficits matter only situationally to Republicans and inflation fears ebb and flow, depending on the politics of the issue.With a key test vote on the infrastructure measure expected around noon on Saturday, the Republican Party’s blasé attitude toward deficits will last only a matter of days.By early next week, with the bill likely passed, Democratic leaders will have to decide how to deal with a looming crisis: the approaching statutory limit on how much the Treasury can borrow to finance the government’s debt.They will also be pressing for Senate passage of a budget resolution intended to speed approval of $3.5 trillion in spending on health care, education, child care, immigration and other social policies, much of which would be paid for by tax increases on corporations and the wealthy.And the muffled murmurs from Republicans over infrastructure costs will give way to howls of outrage.“That will be an extraordinary debate of enormous dimension,” Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, predicted. “I can’t think of a single issue that underscores the difference between the two parties more than the reckless tax-and-spending spree that we’ll be dealing with here in the next week or two.”In the past, the Congressional Budget Office has loomed like the sword of Damocles over delicate legislative compromises, a nonpartisan scorekeeper whose rulings on the nation’s finances and fortunes could sink or propel hard-fought policy measures. The budget office’s prediction that successive Republican measures to replace the Affordable Care Act would cost tens of millions of Americans their health insurance effectively doomed those efforts.But the 10-year price tag the budget office put out this week for the bipartisan infrastructure bill changed no minds, even though it reported that the measure would tack a quarter trillion dollars to an already swollen sea of federal red ink. Many Republicans are beginning to regard spending on highways, bridges, rail lines and broadband the way Democrats have for years — as a long-term investment in the nation’s economic future that need not cause short-term deficit heartburn, especially when borrowing costs are at rock-bottom rates.The federal budget deficit has reached staggering proportions, driven by successive pandemic rescue packages, an economic collapse and the huge 2017 tax cut signed by President Donald J. Trump. Without counting the costs of the infrastructure or social policy bills, the C.B.O. had projected the deficit for the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30 would reach $3 trillion; the federal debt held by the public will exceed the size of the entire economy. Within 10 years, that debt is poised to equal 106 percent of the economy, the highest level in the nation’s history.Despite a resurgent coronavirus, the economy appears to be recovering. Employers added 943,000 jobs in July, the Labor Department reported Friday, and Jerome H. Powell, the Federal Reserve chair, acknowledged in late July that inflation remained a real risk in the near term“We think that some of it will fall away naturally as the process of reopening the economy moves through,” Mr. Powell said of inflation, before adding, “It could take some time.”But the federal spending of the Trump era appears to have given his party permission to put austerity in the rearview mirror, at least for some measures.In a statement on Thursday in response to the C.B.O. price tag, Senators Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio, and Kyrsten Sinema, Democrat of Arizona, the two lead negotiators on the infrastructure deal, defended the bipartisan legislation as “a historic investment in our nation’s core infrastructure needs.”That rationale reflected longstanding arguments from liberals, which Mr. Portman and Ms. Sinema decidedly are not.“Almost every state, county and private-sector organization pays for ongoing operating expenses with ongoing revenue, and pays for physical infrastructure with debt financing,” Senator Brian Schatz, Democrat of Hawaii, said on Friday. “Anything that provides value over a long period of time should be paid for over a long period of time. This isn’t some wacky new political philosophy; it’s just smart money management.”And because Democrats have vowed to pay for their social policy spending with tax increases and other measures, such as allowing Medicare to bargain for lower drug prices, that legislation will not increase the deficit, said Senator Chris Van Hollen, Democrat of Maryland and a member of the Senate Budget Committee.“We are going to be paying for the American Family Plan; we are going to offset those investments, and yet you’re going to have Republicans again shedding crocodile tears over the deficit,” he said.“There is a good faith discussion about how much spending is too much,” Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen said this week.Stefani Reynolds for The New York TimesTreasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen is undergoing her own reappraisal of deficit spending. In recent years, she expressed concern about the nation’s fiscal situation, even suggesting that raising taxes and cutting retirement spending would be wise. But since becoming the Treasury chief, she has espoused the view that, with interest rates at historic lows, now is the time for big spending.“There is a good faith discussion about how much spending is too much,” Ms. Yellen said during a speech in Atlanta this week. “But if we are going to make these investments, now is fiscally the most strategic time to make them.”Those arguments are hurtling toward a separate but politically connected issue: the government’s statutory borrowing limit. The official deadline to raise the debt limit came and went at the beginning of the month, forcing Ms. Yellen to employ “extraordinary measures” to keep the nation from defaulting on its debt and provoking a global economic crisis..css-1xzcza9{list-style-type:disc;padding-inline-start:1em;}.css-3btd0c{font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size:1rem;line-height:1.375rem;color:#333;margin-bottom:0.78125rem;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-3btd0c{font-size:1.0625rem;line-height:1.5rem;margin-bottom:0.9375rem;}}.css-3btd0c strong{font-weight:600;}.css-3btd0c em{font-style:italic;}.css-w739ur{margin:0 auto 5px;font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.125rem;line-height:1.3125rem;color:#121212;}#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-w739ur{font-family:nyt-cheltenham,georgia,’times new roman’,times,serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.375rem;line-height:1.625rem;}@media (min-width:740px){#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-w739ur{font-size:1.6875rem;line-height:1.875rem;}}@media (min-width:740px){.css-w739ur{font-size:1.25rem;line-height:1.4375rem;}}.css-9s9ecg{margin-bottom:15px;}.css-16ed7iq{width:100%;display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-align-items:center;-webkit-box-align:center;-ms-flex-align:center;align-items:center;-webkit-box-pack:center;-webkit-justify-content:center;-ms-flex-pack:center;justify-content:center;padding:10px 0;background-color:white;}.css-pmm6ed{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-align-items:center;-webkit-box-align:center;-ms-flex-align:center;align-items:center;}.css-pmm6ed > :not(:first-child){margin-left:5px;}.css-5gimkt{font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size:0.8125rem;font-weight:700;-webkit-letter-spacing:0.03em;-moz-letter-spacing:0.03em;-ms-letter-spacing:0.03em;letter-spacing:0.03em;text-transform:uppercase;color:#333;}.css-5gimkt:after{content:’Collapse’;}.css-rdoyk0{-webkit-transition:all 0.5s ease;transition:all 0.5s ease;-webkit-transform:rotate(180deg);-ms-transform:rotate(180deg);transform:rotate(180deg);}.css-eb027h{max-height:5000px;-webkit-transition:max-height 0.5s ease;transition:max-height 0.5s ease;}.css-6mllg9{-webkit-transition:all 0.5s ease;transition:all 0.5s ease;position:relative;opacity:0;}.css-6mllg9:before{content:”;background-image:linear-gradient(180deg,transparent,#ffffff);background-image:-webkit-linear-gradient(270deg,rgba(255,255,255,0),#ffffff);height:80px;width:100%;position:absolute;bottom:0px;pointer-events:none;}.css-uf1ume{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-box-pack:justify;-webkit-justify-content:space-between;-ms-flex-pack:justify;justify-content:space-between;}.css-wxi1cx{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-flex-direction:column;-ms-flex-direction:column;flex-direction:column;-webkit-align-self:flex-end;-ms-flex-item-align:end;align-self:flex-end;}.css-12vbvwq{background-color:white;border:1px solid #e2e2e2;width:calc(100% – 40px);max-width:600px;margin:1.5rem auto 1.9rem;padding:15px;box-sizing:border-box;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-12vbvwq{padding:20px;width:100%;}}.css-12vbvwq:focus{outline:1px solid #e2e2e2;}#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-12vbvwq{border:none;padding:10px 0 0;border-top:2px solid #121212;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-rdoyk0{-webkit-transform:rotate(0deg);-ms-transform:rotate(0deg);transform:rotate(0deg);}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-eb027h{max-height:300px;overflow:hidden;-webkit-transition:none;transition:none;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-5gimkt:after{content:’See more’;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-6mllg9{opacity:1;}.css-qjk116{margin:0 auto;overflow:hidden;}.css-qjk116 strong{font-weight:700;}.css-qjk116 em{font-style:italic;}.css-qjk116 a{color:#326891;-webkit-text-decoration:underline;text-decoration:underline;text-underline-offset:1px;-webkit-text-decoration-thickness:1px;text-decoration-thickness:1px;-webkit-text-decoration-color:#326891;text-decoration-color:#326891;}.css-qjk116 a:visited{color:#326891;-webkit-text-decoration-color:#326891;text-decoration-color:#326891;}.css-qjk116 a:hover{-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;}In a letter to Congress on Monday, Ms. Yellen warned lawmakers that they needed to take action to protect the “full faith and credit of the United States” and said she was already taking steps to stave off a default.Most analysts expect that the drop-dead deadline is sometime before November.Ms. Yellen has been reminding lawmakers who are reluctant to lift the debt limit that doing so does not authorize future spending; it merely allows the government to pay for expenditures that Congress has already enacted. That includes Mr. Trump’s $1.5 trillion tax cut.Mr. McConnell has threatened to withhold all Republican votes from a debt ceiling increase, a stance that Mr. Hollen called “part of a pattern of hypocrisy.” Republicans repeatedly raised the debt ceiling during the Trump years, even after their tax cut. But they have provoked a series of crises when a Democrat is in the White House.Even some conservatives say Republican inconsistency is undermining the party’s case for fiscal rectitude.“Republicans would have much more credibility on the debt ceiling argument if they weren’t about to vote to add hundreds of billions of dollars to the deficit” on the infrastructure bill, said Brian Riedl, a senior fellow at the conservative Manhattan Institute and a former economic aide to Mr. Portman.Democrats have a decision to make in the next few days. They could add an increase in the debt ceiling to their upcoming budget resolution, ensuring that the borrowing limit could be raised without the need for any Republican votes this fall. But that option would come with political costs: to do it, Senate rules require that the provision includes a hard number for the debt ceiling increase, like $10 trillion, which Republicans would say, inaccurately, is the true cost of the social policy bill.That is very much what Republicans want.“I think the majority has to solve this — they control the House and the Senate and the White House,” Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, a member of Republican leadership, told reporters this week.If the debt ceiling is instead raised through a separate measure, the bill could simply set a date for the next debt ceiling increase, without a dollar number. But that would take Republican votes in the Senate to break a filibuster, votes Mr. McConnell has said he will not supply.Republicans have argued that debt ceiling showdowns have long been used to force a reluctant Congress to examine the structural issues that drive up debt. The debt ceiling crisis of 2011 forced both parties to accept the Budget Control Act, which reined in spending for nearly a decade, until it lapsed under Mr. Trump.“You can’t keep increasing the debt limit over and over again without some kind of reform that starts to address the fundamental issue, and that is deficit spending that goes out as far as we can see,” Senator Steve Daines, Republican of Montana, told Punchbowl News.That argument has Democrats livid, because the debt increase they must address was largely incurred through spending by Republicans.“This is Trump tax cut debt and Covid debt,” Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, said. “The United States will pay its bills.”Jeanna Smialek More

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    $1 Trillion Infrastructure Bill Pours Money Into Long-Delayed Needs

    The sprawling, 2,702-page bill includes historic investments in traditional projects as well as broadband expansion and funds for some climate projects.WASHINGTON — Amtrak would see its biggest infusion of money since its inception a half-century ago. Climate resilience programs would receive their largest burst of government spending ever. The nation’s power grid would be upgraded to the tune of $73 billion.The sprawling, $1 trillion bill that the Senate took up on Monday — a 2,702-page bipartisan deal that is the product of months of negotiating and years of pent-up ambitions to repair the nation’s crumbling infrastructure — would amount to the most substantial government expenditure on the aging public works system since 2009.It is also stuffed with pet projects and priorities that touch on nearly every facet of American life, including the most obscure, like a provision to allow blood transport vehicles to use highway car pool lanes to bypass traffic when fresh vials are on board and another to fully fund a federal grant program to promote “pollinator-friendly practices” near roads and highways. (Price tag for the latter: $2 million per year.)The measure represents a crucial piece of President Biden’s economic agenda, and the agreement that gave rise to it was a major breakthrough in his quest for a bipartisan compromise. But it was also notable for the concessions Mr. Biden was forced to make to strike the deal, including less funding for clean energy projects, lead pipe replacement, transit and measures targeted to historically underserved communities.Some of those provisions could be included in Democrats’ budget blueprint, expected to amount to $3.5 trillion, which they plan to take up after completing the infrastructure bill and push through unilaterally over Republican objections.The infrastructure legislation, written by a group of 10 Republicans and Democrats, could still change in the coming days, as other senators eager to leave their imprint have a chance to offer proposals for changes. The Senate began considering amendments on Monday, with more possible in the coming days.But the legislation marks a significant bipartisan compromise, including $550 billion in new funds and the renewal of an array of existing transportation and infrastructure programs otherwise slated to expire at the end of September.For climate, a substantial investment that falls short of the administration’s goals.As states confront yet another consecutive year of worsening natural disasters, ranging from ice storms to wildfires, the measure includes billions of dollars to better prepare the country for the effects of global warming and the single largest federal investment in power transmission in history.Much of the money intended to bolster the country’s ability to withstand extreme weather would go toward activities that are already underway, but which experts say the government needs to do more of as the threats from climate change increase. It also would support new approaches, including money for “next-generation water modeling activities” and flood mapping at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which would also receive funds to predict wildfires.The legislation also includes $73 billion to modernize the nation’s electricity grid, which energy analysts said would lay the groundwork for pivoting the nation off fossil fuels. But it contains only a fraction of the money Mr. Biden requested for major environmental initiatives and extends a lifeline to natural gas and nuclear energy, provisions that have angered House progressives.There is also $7.5 billion for clean buses and ferries, but that is not nearly enough to electrify about 50,000 transit buses within five years, as Mr. Biden has vowed to do. The bill includes $7.5 billion to develop electric vehicle charging stations across the country, only half of the $15 billion Mr. Biden requested to deliver on his campaign pledge of building 500,000 of them.The bill would provide $15 billion for removing lead service lines across the nation, compared with the $45 billion Mr. Biden had called for and the $60 billion water sector leaders say is needed to get the job done.The legislation also includes more than $300 million to develop technology to capture and store carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, and $6 billion to support struggling nuclear reactors. It directs the secretary of energy to conduct a study on job losses associated with Mr. Biden’s decision to cancel the Keystone XL Pipeline.The legislation includes $73 billion to modernize the nation’s electricity grid.Jim Wilson/The New York TimesSenators won pet projects and crucial funding for their favored priorities.As one of the few major bills likely to be enacted during this Congress, the infrastructure measure has become a magnet for lobbying by industries across the country — and by the lawmakers whose votes will be needed to push it through, many of whom spent Monday highlighting funds for their top priorities.For the quartet of senators who represent the legions of federal workers who use the Washington Metro — Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner of Virginia, and Benjamin L. Cardin and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, all Democrats — there was a critical annual reauthorization of $150 million for the transit system over a decade.The legislation would authorize funding to reconstruct a highway in Alaska, the home state of Senator Lisa Murkowski, a key Republican negotiator. Special funds are set aside for the Appalachian Regional Commission, a federal economic development body whose co-chairwoman is Gayle Manchin, the wife of Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, one of the bill’s principal authors and a key Democratic swing vote. Mr. Manchin also helped secure funds to clean up abandoned mine lands in states like his.The legislation would set aside funds for individual projects across the country, including $1 billion for the restoration of the Great Lakes, $24 million for the San Francisco Bay, $106 million for the Long Island Sound and $238 million for the Chesapeake Bay.It also includes $66 billion in new funding for rail to address Amtrak’s maintenance backlog, along with upgrading the high-traffic Northeast Corridor from Washington to Boston. For Mr. Biden, an Amtrak devotee who took an estimated 8,000 round trips on the line, it is a step toward fulfilling his promise to inject billions into rail.Unspent pandemic funds and tougher scrutiny of cryptocurrency help pay for the plan.With Republicans and some moderate Democrats opposed to adding to the nation’s ballooning debt, the legislation includes a patchwork of financing mechanisms, though some fiscal hawks have called many of them insufficient.To pay for the legislation, lawmakers have turned partly to $200 billion in unused money from previous pandemic relief programs enacted in 2020.That includes $53 billion in expanded jobless benefit money that can be repurposed since the economy recovered more quickly than projections assumed, and because many states discontinued their pandemic unemployment insurance payments out of concern that the subsidies were dissuading people from rejoining the work force.The bill claws back more than $30 billion that was allocated — but had not been spent — for a Small Business Administration disaster loan program, which offers qualified businesses low-interest loans and small grants. That program has been stymied by shifting rules and red tape, and has disbursed cash far more slowly than Congress (and many applicants) expected.Leftover funds from other defunct programs would also be reprogrammed. That includes $3 billion never deployed in relief funds for airline workers.Marc Goldwein of the Center for a Responsible Federal Budget said that only about $50 billion of the estimated $200 billion represented real cost savings. The rest, he said, amounted to “cherry picking” numbers and claiming savings from projected costs that did not transpire.An analysis of the legislation by the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that the legislation could raise $51 billion in revenue over a decade, while the Congressional Budget Office is expected to release projections on its overall cost as early as this week.The legislation also includes tougher scrutiny by the I.R.S. on cryptocurrency. But a last-minute lobbying push by the industry to water down the language succeeded, resulting in a scaling back of the new requirements.Still, the provision is projected to raise $28 billion over a decade.New resources for underserved communities — but far fewer than the president wanted.As the United States remains battered by both the toll of the coronavirus pandemic and an onslaught of wildfires, droughts, floods and other weather calamities, the legislation seeks to target its support toward underserved communities historically in need of additional federal support.But while Mr. Biden had called for $20 billion for projects designed to help reconnect Black neighborhoods and communities of color splintered or disadvantaged by past construction, the legislation includes just $1 billion, half of which is new federal funding, over five years for the program. The legislation also creates a new $2 billion grant program to expand roads, bridges and other surface transportation projects in rural areas.The bill would increase support for tribal governments and Native American communities, creating an office within the Department of Transportation intended to respond to their needs. It would provide $216 million to the Bureau of Indian Affairs for climate resilience and adaptation for tribal nations, which have been disproportionately hurt by climate change. More than half of that money, $130 million, would go toward “community relocation” — helping some Native communities move away from vulnerable areas.It would also help improve access to running water and other sanitation needs in tribal communities and Alaska Native villages, with lawmakers determined to take care of all existing project needs.“We are still in an extreme deficit when it comes to our tribal communities,” Ms. Murkowski said in a speech on the Senate floor, adding that the funding level was “unprecedented.” “We’ve got to do right by our Native people.”A major investment in closing the digital divide.Alongside old-fashioned public works projects like roads, bridges and highways, senators have included $65 billion meant to connect hard-to-reach rural communities to high-speed internet and help sign up low-income city dwellers who cannot afford it. Other legal changes seek to stoke competition and transparency among service providers that could help drive down prices.Official estimates vary, but most suggest that tens of millions of Americans lack reliable access to high-speed internet, many of them people of color, members of rural communities or other low-income groups. That need, lawmakers said, was exacerbated by lockdowns during the pandemic that required work and schooling from home.Mr. Biden had initially proposed $100 billion to try to bring that number to zero, but he agreed to lower the price to strike a compromise with Republicans. Democrats also fought to secure the inclusion of legislation to encourage states to develop comprehensive plans to ensure that access to high-speed internet is distributed equitably among traditionally underserved groups and educate them about access to digital resources.Nicholas Fandos More

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    As Infrastructure Bill Inches Forth, a Rocky, Slow Path Awaits in the House

    Progressives have not ruled out reopening the deal that senators are painstakingly putting together, and they do not intend to take it up for months, until after their other priorities are addressed.WASHINGTON — As senators grind through votes this week on a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, discontent about the legislation is building among progressive Democrats, signaling a potentially bitter and prolonged intraparty fight to come over the package in the House.Liberals who have bristled at seeing their top priorities jettisoned from the infrastructure talks as President Biden and Democrats sought an elusive deal with Republicans have warned that they may seek to change the bill substantially when they have the chance. At minimum, House Democrats have made clear that they do not intend to take up the bill until a second, far more expansive package to provide trillions more in spending on health care, education, child care and climate change programs is approved, something not expected until the fall.The result is that, even as senators carefully navigate their sprawling infrastructure compromise toward final passage that could come within days — pausing every few hours to congratulate themselves for finding bipartisan consensus in a time of deep division — the legislation still faces a rocky and potentially slow path beyond the Senate.Democrats hold a slim enough majority in the House that even a few defections could sink legislation, and progressives have been open in recent days about their reluctance to support the infrastructure legislation without an ironclad guarantee that the budget package, expected to cost about $3.5 trillion, will become law.“The Progressive Caucus has had moral clarity, and a clarion call for three months, that we need to deliver the entirety of these two packages together, so that’s going to continue to be our approach,” said Representative Pramila Jayapal of Washington, the chairwoman of the group. “While there may be a couple of senators that are saying that they’re going to vote ‘no’ if certain things don’t happen, that is also true of any number of members in the House.”In order to deliver on Mr. Biden’s $4 trillion economic agenda, Democratic leaders have remained adamant that they will approve two expansive bills this year, beginning with Senate passage of the $1 trillion bipartisan compromise, which would pour $550 billion in new federal funds into the nation’s aging roads, bridges and highways, and into climate resiliency and broadband expansion programs.The remainder of Mr. Biden’s plans to address climate change, expand health care and provide free education will be stuffed into a budget package that Democrats plan to pass using a maneuver known as reconciliation. That process allows them to bypass a filibuster, meaning that if all 50 of their senators supported the bill, it could be approved over unified Republican opposition.Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, has said he plans to bring up a budget blueprint that would pave the way for that bill as soon as the infrastructure bill passes — and will not allow senators to leave Washington for their summer break, scheduled to begin on Friday, until both are done.Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California has repeatedly said that the House will not take up the bipartisan infrastructure bill until the Senate passes the reconciliation package, which will take weeks to hammer out in order to clear an evenly divided Senate. But some moderate Democrats want to vote on it immediately, sending it quickly to Mr. Biden for his signature.“We should bring this once-in-a-century bipartisan legislation to the floor for a stand-alone vote as quickly as possible,” said Representative Josh Gottheimer, Democrat of New Jersey and a leader of the centrist Problem Solvers Caucus.Republicans have moved quickly to try to exploit the divisions among Democrats. While more than a dozen Republicans are expected to support the final bipartisan infrastructure bill, they have branded the budget package as a “reckless tax-and-spending spree” that will drive up inflation. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, led a half-dozen Republicans on Wednesday in a barrage of criticism for what he described as “the absolute worst possible thing we could be doing to our country.”Some centrist Democrats, too, have expressed concern about the size of the $3.5 trillion plan being championed by progressives. Most notably, Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona has said she will not support a reconciliation bill of that size, which would doom the measure in the Senate, where Democrats need every member aligned with them to vote yes. (She has agreed to advance a budget blueprint, a crucial step for the process.)That infuriated liberal Democrats who are primed to wield their influence on the pair of economic bills. They have been emboldened in recent days by a successful campaign led by one of their own, Representative Cori Bush of Missouri, to pressure Mr. Biden into extending an eviction moratorium for renters affected by the pandemic.“Today is important because it marks, I hope, a turning point in the way that this White House views progressives,” Representative Mondaire Jones, Democrat of New York, said at a news conference after the moratorium extension was announced. “We are prepared to leverage our energy and our activism in close coordination with grass-roots activists and people all across this country.”Representative Cori Bush, Democrat of Missouri, right, led a successful campaign to pressure President Biden into extending an eviction moratorium for renters affected by the pandemic.Stefani Reynolds for The New York TimesThe House set its own marker for infrastructure legislation in early July with the nearly party-line passage of a five-year, $715 billion transportation and drinking water bill. But the White House instead focused on talks with a bipartisan group of senators aimed at finding a compromise that could win enough Republican support to draw 60 votes in the Senate and overcome a filibuster. As part of the resulting deal, Mr. Biden made a number of concessions, accepting less funding for clean energy projects, lead pipe replacement and transit, among other areas.The situation has rankled Representative Peter A. DeFazio of Oregon, the chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Mr. DeFazio spent months shepherding the House infrastructure bill, which includes more substantial climate policy and more than 1,400 home-district projects, known as earmarks, from lawmakers in both parties.“The bill in the Senate was written behind closed doors, and you know, that’s probably not going to be the best product,” Mr. DeFazio said on CNN on Monday. “Most of the people who wrote the bill are not senior people on the committees of jurisdiction who know a lot about transportation, or perhaps a number of them are resistant to the idea that we should deal with climate change.”Pressed on whether he would ultimately block passage of the final product, Mr. DeFazio conceded that the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package “could fix a lot of the problems in this bill.”“I’ve had that conversation with the White House — that’s possible,” he said. “So if we see major changes and things that are mitigated by the reconciliation bill, OK, then maybe we could move this.”White House officials said they have remained in touch with House Democrats’ tensions. Mr. Biden has dispatched cabinet officials to meet with several of them, including Pete Buttigieg, the transportation secretary, who traveled to Oregon to laud Mr. DeFazio’s work on infrastructure.“We’re in close touch with the president’s colleagues in the House, who he deeply respects and values as core partners in delivering on generational infrastructure progress,” said Andrew Bates, a White House spokesman. In recent days, the White House has pointedly shared polls and articles that show widespread support for the bipartisan plan and highlight substantial funding for climate resilience.Senate Democrats, for their part, have vowed to remain united as they trudge through a marathon of votes to finish both the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the budget blueprint before leaving Washington for their August recess.“We’re moving together as Democrats,” Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts told reporters this week. “No one’s going to get everything they want. But no one’s going to get shut out, either.”Lisa Friedman More

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    How Biden Got the Infrastructure Deal Trump Couldn’t

    The early success of the deal vindicated the president’s faith in bipartisanship. If he can keep it on track, it will help affirm the rationale for his presidency.WASHINGTON — President Biden’s success at propelling an infrastructure deal past its first major hurdle this week was a vindication of his faith in bipartisanship and a repudiation of the slash-and-burn politics of his immediate predecessor, President Donald J. Trump, who tried and failed to block it.Having campaigned as the anti-Trump — an insider who regarded compromise as a virtue, rather than a missed opportunity to crush a rival — Mr. Biden has held up the promise of a broad infrastructure accord not just as a policy priority but as a test of the fundamental rationale for his presidency.His success or failure at keeping the bill on track will go a long way to determining his legacy, and it could be the president’s best chance to deliver on his bet that he can unite lawmakers across the political aisle to solve big problems, even at a time of intense polarization.“President Biden ran on the message that we need to bring people together to meet the challenges facing our country and deliver results for working families,” Mike Donilon, a senior adviser to the president, wrote in a memo the White House released on Thursday, as senior officials crowed about the significance of the accord. “And the American people embraced that message. While a lot of pundits have doubted bipartisanship was even possible, the American people have been very clear it is what they want.”That may be the case, but the vote on Wednesday that paved the way for the Senate to consider the bipartisan infrastructure plan was no guarantee that the effort would succeed. The measure still has several hurdles to clear, including anger from progressives in the House who are upset at the concessions Mr. Biden made to court Republicans, and skepticism from G.O.P. lawmakers who could still balk at a bill Mr. Trump has repeatedly panned.For now, though, Mr. Biden has managed to do what Mr. Trump repeatedly promised but never could pull off: move forward on a big-spending, bipartisan deal to rebuild American roads, bridges, water pipes and more. He did so with the support of 17 Republicans during a week marked by bitter partisan disputes in Congress over mask-wearing and the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.Mr. Biden had pursued centrist Republicans and Democrats for months in hopes of forging an agreement to lift federal spending on roads, bridges, water pipes, broadband internet and other physical infrastructure. In recent weeks, aides said, he requested multiple daily briefings on negotiations, personally directed administration strategy on policy trade-offs and frequently phoned moderates from both parties to keep the pressure on for a final deal.The resulting agreement, which would pour $550 billion in new funding into physical infrastructure projects, is another step toward securing the next plank of Mr. Biden’s $4 trillion economic agenda. The White House has called it the largest infrastructure investment since the creation of the interstate highway system in the 1950s, and Democrats hope it comes with a much larger bill to invest in child care, affordable housing, higher education, programs to tackle climate change and more.The Infrastructure Plan: What’s In and What’s OutComparing the infrastructure plan President Biden proposed in March with the one the Senate may take up soon.Whether the president can see the deal all the way through could determine how much of his agenda to overhaul American capitalism and rebuild the middle class actually becomes law. Some moderate Democrats in the Senate have conditioned their support for any larger, partisan legislation on first completing a bipartisan infrastructure bill.The bipartisan agreement is loaded with the first tranche of Mr. Biden’s policy priorities. Administration officials say the deal, if signed into law, would replace every lead drinking water pipe in the country, repair potholed roads and crumbling bridges, further build out a national network of charging stations for electric vehicles and give every American access to high-speed internet.Mr. Biden would have liked to go much further in all those areas. But he trimmed his ambitions to win Republican support, keep centrist Democrats happy and practice the sort of compromise he has long preached on the campaign trail.Mr. Biden was motivated to run for president, in part, by a belief that Washington had lost its ability to find common ground and faith that it was possible to revive the spirit of bipartisanship that he cherished in his 36-year Senate career.That belief was tested in recent weeks, after Mr. Biden announced the framework of an agreement on infrastructure with a bipartisan group of senators at the White House in June. Lawmakers struggled to fill in the policy details. Interest groups pressured Democrats to spend more and Republicans to drop a large revenue source for the original deal, a plan to step up I.R.S. enforcement to catch tax cheats. An early test vote on the measure failed in the Senate.In the waning moments, another source of pressure emerged: Mr. Trump, who continues to push the lie that the election was stolen from him, and to influence many Republican members of Congress.As a candidate in 2016, Mr. Trump had promised to push a large infrastructure bill — larger, he claimed, than his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. He doubled down on that promise as president-elect and talked it up often as president. But he never came close to delivering on it, and “Infrastructure Week” became a running joke in Washington, encapsulating the Trump administration’s penchant for veering off message and how a goal both parties ostensibly agreed upon could never seem to be reached.As Mr. Biden pushed toward a deal in recent weeks with a group of Republican and Democratic negotiators in the Senate — including Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, a longtime foil of Mr. Trump’s — the former president blasted out news releases, urging his party to walk away.“Hard to believe our Senate Republicans are dealing with the radical left Democrats in making a so-called bipartisan bill on ‘infrastructure,’ with our negotiators headed up by super RINO Mitt Romney,” Mr. Trump wrote in a Wednesday statement, referring to the Utah senator with the acronym for Republican in name only. “This will be a victory for the Biden administration and Democrats, and will be heavily used in the 2022 election. It is a loser for the U.S.A., a terrible deal, and makes the Republicans look weak, foolish and dumb.”Soon after, the agreement moved forward in the Senate. Seventeen Republicans voted to take it up, including the Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who has taken pains to distance himself from Mr. Trump in recent months. It was not clear whether the minority leader, who has previously said he was “100 percent focused” on stopping Mr. Biden’s agenda, would ultimately support the bill.Still, Mr. Biden — who once brokered deals with Mr. McConnell — was personally invested in pursuing a compromise, administration officials said, calling upon his experience as a deal-maker in the Senate.“Biden and his team was willing to patiently work together with Republicans, and Trump and his team were not willing to do that with Democrats,” said Senator Tim Kaine, Democrat of Virginia. He added, “I give tremendous credit to the senators who’ve done this, but I will have to say, an ingredient that is necessary is a White House that really wants to do it, that will reach out across the aisle and will stay at the table.”Mr. Biden also dispatched top legislative aides and members of his Cabinet to reach out to lawmakers in both parties. Senator Kevin Cramer, Republican of North Dakota, said he received repeated calls from Jennifer Granholm, the secretary of energy, and legislative staff members — “always very gently and respectfully” — to discuss the emerging deal and “take my temperature” before he voted to advance the measure.Multiple senators said the president and his team spent hours with them in person on Capitol Hill and on the phone hashing out the details of the legislation, including thorny disagreements over how to finance billions of dollars in new spending.“Joe’s experience in the Senate paid dividends in the presidency,” said Senator Jon Tester, Democrat of Montana, one of the 10 Senate negotiators. “Joe’s willingness to compromise made a huge difference.”Mr. Trump and his team never put in a similar effort. They waited a year into his presidency to release an infrastructure plan, which many lawmakers quickly dismissed as unserious. As talks were about to get underway, he blew them up in a blast of anger at Democrats. His legislative team never put real muscle into finding a deal on the issue, or even into trying to ram through a partisan plan, as it did with his signature tax cuts in 2017.The former president was similarly disengaged in his effort to stop Mr. Biden’s bipartisan agreement. While Mr. Trump fired off news releases grousing about the talks, Mr. Biden hosted members of Congress in the Oval Office more than a dozen times in recent weeks. Home in Delaware last weekend, he repeatedly dialed up negotiators to talk on the phone.Even in a gridlocked Washington, that sort of effort can still be the art of the deal.Emily Cochrane More

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    $1 Trillion Infrastructure Deal Scales Senate Hurdle With Bipartisan Vote

    The vote was a breakthrough after weeks of wrangling among White House officials and senators in both parties, clearing the way for action on a top priority for President Biden.WASHINGTON — The Senate voted on Wednesday to take up a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill that would make far-reaching investments in the nation’s public works system, as Republicans joined Democrats in clearing the way for action on a crucial piece of President Biden’s agenda.The 67-to-32 vote, which included 17 Republicans in favor, came just hours after centrist senators in both parties and the White House reached a long-sought compromise on the bill, which would provide about $550 billion in new federal money for roads, bridges, rail, transit, water and other physical infrastructure programs.Among those in support of moving forward was Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader and a longtime foil of major legislation pushed by Democratic presidents. Mr. McConnell’s backing signaled that his party was — at least for now — open to teaming with Democrats to enact the plan.The deal still faces several obstacles to becoming law, including being turned into formal legislative text and clearing final votes in the closely divided Senate and House. But the vote was a victory for a president who has long promised to break through the partisan gridlock gripping Congress and accomplish big things supported by members of both political parties.If enacted, the measure would be the largest infusion of federal money into the public works system in more than a decade.The compromise, which was still being written on Wednesday, includes $110 billion for roads, bridges and major projects; $66 billion for passenger and freight rail; $39 billion for public transit; $65 billion for broadband; $17 billion for ports and waterways; and $46 billion to help states and cities prepare for droughts, wildfires, flooding and other consequences of climate change, according to a White House official who detailed it on the condition of anonymity.In a lengthy statement, Mr. Biden hailed the deal as “the most significant long-term investment in our infrastructure and competitiveness in nearly a century.”He also framed it as vindication of his belief in bipartisanship.“Neither side got everything they wanted in this deal,” Mr. Biden said. “But that’s what it means to compromise and forge consensus — the heart of democracy. As the deal goes to the entire Senate, there is still plenty of work ahead to bring this home. There will be disagreements to resolve and more compromise to forge along the way.”That was evident on Wednesday even as the president and senators in both parties cheered their agreement. In negotiating it, Mr. Biden and Democratic leaders were forced to agree to concessions, accepting less new federal money for public transit and clean energy projects than they had wanted, including for some electric vehicle charging stations, and abandoning their push for additional funding for tax enforcement at the I.R.S. (A senior Democratic aide noted that Democrats secured an expansion of existing transit and highway programs compared with 2015, the last time such legislation was passed.)The changes — and the omission of some of their highest priorities — rankled progressives in both chambers, with some threatening to oppose the bill unless it was modified.“From what we have heard, having seen no text, this bill is going to be status quo, 1950s policy with a little tiny add-on,” said Representative Peter A. DeFazio of Oregon, a Democrat and the chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.“If it’s what I think it is,” he added, “I will be opposed.”Still, the bipartisan compromise was a crucial component of Mr. Biden’s $4 trillion economic agenda, which Democrats plan to pair with a $3.5 trillion budget blueprint that would provide additional spending for climate, health care and education, to be muscled through Congress over Republican objections.The Infrastructure Plan: What’s In and What’s OutComparing the infrastructure plan President Biden proposed in March with the one the Senate may take up soon.The vote to move forward with the infrastructure bill came after weeks of haggling by a bipartisan group of senators and White House officials to translate an outline they agreed on late last month into legislation. Just last week, Senate Republicans had unanimously blocked consideration of the plan, saying there were too many unresolved disputes. But by Wednesday, after several days of frenzied talks and late-night phone calls and texts among senators and White House officials, the negotiators announced they were ready to proceed.“We look forward to moving ahead, and having the opportunity to have a healthy debate here in the chamber regarding an incredibly important project for the American people,” said Senator Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio and a lead negotiator.Many of the bill’s spending provisions remain unchanged from the original agreement. But it appeared that it pared spending in a few areas, including reducing money for public transit to $39 billion from $49 billion, and eliminating a $20 billion “infrastructure bank” that was meant to catalyze private investment in large projects. Negotiators were unable to agree on the structure of the bank and terms of its financing authority, so they removed it altogether.The loss of the infrastructure bank appeared to cut in half the funding for electric vehicle charging stations that administration officials had said was included in the original agreement, jeopardizing Mr. Biden’s promise to create a network of 500,000 charging stations nationwide.The new agreement appears to cut funding in half for the Biden administration’s proposal on electric vehicle charging stations.Frederic J. Brown/Agence France-Presse — Getty ImagesThe new agreement also included significant changes to how the infrastructure spending will be paid for, after Republicans resisted supporting a pillar of the original framework: increased revenues from an I.R.S. crackdown on tax cheats, which was to have supplied nearly one-fifth of the funding for the plan.In place of those lost revenues, negotiators agreed to repurpose more than $250 billion from previous pandemic aid legislation, including $50 billion from expanded unemployment benefits that have been canceled prematurely this summer by two dozen Republican governors, according to a fact sheet reviewed by The New York Times. That is more than double the repurposed money in the original deal.The new agreement would save $50 billion by delaying a Medicare rebate rule passed under President Donald J. Trump and raise nearly $30 billion by applying tax information reporting requirements to cryptocurrency. It also proposes to recoup $50 billion in fraudulently paid unemployment benefits during the pandemic.Fiscal hawks were quick to dismiss some of those financing mechanisms as overly optimistic or accounting gimmicks, and warned that the agreement would add to the federal budget deficit over time. But business groups and some moderates in Washington quickly praised the deal.Jack Howard, the senior vice president for government affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has worked for months to broker a bipartisan deal that does not include a corporate tax increase, said the spending in the agreement “will provide enormous benefits for the American people and the economy.”“Our nation has been waiting for infrastructure modernization for over a decade,” he said, “and this is a critical step in the process.”During a lunch on Wednesday, the Republicans who spearheaded the deal passed out binders containing a summary of what could be a 1,000-page bill. The group of 10 core negotiators ultimately held a celebratory news conference where they thanked their colleagues in both parties for their support.“It’s not perfect but it’s, I think, in a good place,” said Senator Thom Tillis, Republican of North Carolina, who voted in favor of taking up the bill.Senator Chuck Schumer, the majority leader, expressed optimism about the new agreement.T.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York TimesAfter the vote Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, expressed optimism that the Senate would be able to pass not just the bipartisan infrastructure package, but the $3.5 trillion budget blueprint needed to unlock the far more expansive reconciliation package to carry the remainder of Mr. Biden’s agenda.“My goal remains to pass both a bipartisan infrastructure bill and a budget resolution during this work period — both,” Mr. Schumer said, warning of “long nights” and weekend sessions. “We are going to get the job done, and we are on track.”Democrats still must maneuver the bill through the evenly divided Senate, maintaining the support of all 50 Democrats and independents and at least 10 Republicans. That could take at least a week, particularly if Republicans opposed to it opt to slow the process. Should the measure clear the Senate, it would also have to pass the House, where some liberal Democrats have balked at the emerging details.But Republicans who negotiated the deal urged their colleagues to support a measure they said would provide badly needed funding for infrastructure projects across the country.“I am amazed that there are some who oppose this, just because they think that if you ever get anything done somehow it’s a sign of weakness,” said Senator Bill Cassidy, Republican of Louisiana.Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California has repeatedly said she will not take up the bipartisan infrastructure bill in the House until the far more ambitious $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill passes the Senate.Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, the lead Democratic negotiator of the infrastructure deal and a key moderate vote, issued a statement on Wednesday saying that she did not support a plan that costly, though she would not seek to block it. Those comments prompted multiple liberals in the House to threaten to reject the bipartisan agreement she helped negotiate, underscoring the fragility of the compromise.“Good luck tanking your own party’s investment on childcare, climate action, and infrastructure while presuming you’ll survive a 3 vote House margin,” Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York, wrote in a tweet. “Especially after choosing to exclude members of color from negotiations and calling that a ‘bipartisan accomplishment.’”Reporting was contributed by More

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    A Look at What’s in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal

    The White House and bipartisan lawmakers have agreed on a package that would provide funding for roads, bridges and other physical infrastructure.After weeks of debate and discussion, the White House and a bipartisan group of senators said on Wednesday that they had reached agreement on an infrastructure bill.The $1 trillion package is far smaller than the $2.3 trillion plan that President Biden had originally proposed and would provide about $550 billion in new federal money for public transit, roads, bridges, water and other physical projects over the next five years, according to a White House fact sheet. That money would be cobbled together through a range of measures, including “repurposing” stimulus funds already approved by Congress, selling public spectrum and recouping federal unemployment funds from states that ended more generous pandemic benefits early.Although Mr. Biden conceded that “neither side got everything they wanted,” he said the deal would create new union jobs and make significant investments in public transit.“This deal signals to the world that our democracy can function, deliver and do big things,” Mr. Biden said in a statement. “As we did with the transcontinental railroad and the interstate highway, we will once again transform America and propel us into the future.”Lawmakers have yet to release legislative text of the bill, and although the Senate voted to advance it in an initial vote on Wednesday evening, it still faces several hurdles. But if enacted, the package would mark a significant step toward repairing the nation’s crumbling infrastructure and preparing it for the 21st century.Here is a look at the bipartisan group’s agreement for the final package.Funding for roads and bridgesThe package provides $110 billion in new funding for roads, bridges and other major projects. The funds would be used to repair and rebuild with a “focus on climate change mitigation,” according to the White House.That funding would only begin to chip away at some of the nation’s pressing infrastructure needs, transportation experts say. The most recent estimate by the American Society of Civil Engineers found that the nation’s roads and bridges have a $786 billion backlog of needed repairs.Highway and pedestrian safety programs would receive $11 billion under the deal. Traffic deaths, which have increased during the pandemic, have taken a particular toll on people of color, according to a recent analysis from the Governors Highway Safety Association. Traffic fatalities among Black people jumped 23 percent in 2020 from the year before, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In comparison, traffic fatalities among white people increased 4 percent during the same time period.The deal also includes funding dedicated to “reconnecting communities” by removing freeways or other past infrastructure projects that ran through Black neighborhoods and other communities of color. Although Mr. Biden originally proposed investing $20 billion in the new program, the latest deal includes only $1 billion.Investments in public transitPublic buses, subways and trains would receive $39 billion in new funding, which would be used to repair aging infrastructure and modernize and expand transit service across the country.While the amount of new funding for public transit was scaled back from a June proposal, which included $49 billion, the Biden administration said it would be the largest federal investment in public transit in history.Yet the funds might not be enough to fully modernize the country’s public transit system. According to a report from the American Society of Civil Engineers, there is a $176 billion backlog for transit investments.Big investments in rail and freight linesThe deal would inject $66 billion in rail to address Amtrak’s maintenance backlog, along with upgrading the high-traffic Northeast corridor from Washington to Boston (a route frequented by East Coast lawmakers). It would also expand rail service outside the Northeast and mid-Atlantic.Mr. Biden frequently points to his connection to Amtrak, which began in the 1970s, when he would travel home from Washington to Delaware every night to care for his two sons while serving in the Senate. The new funding would be the largest investment in passenger rail since Amtrak was created 50 years ago, according to the administration, and would come as the agency tries to significantly expand its service nationwide by 2035.Clean water initiativesThe package would invest $55 billion in clean drinking water, which would be enough to replace all of the nation’s lead pipes and service lines. While Congress banned lead water pipes three decades ago, more than 10 million older ones remain, resulting in unsafe lead levels in cities and towns across the country.Beefing up electric vehiclesTo address the effects of climate change, the deal would invest $7.5 billion in building out the nation’s network of electric vehicle charging stations, which could help entice more drivers to switch to such cars by getting rid of so-called charger deserts. The package would also expand America’s fleet of electric school buses by investing $2.5 billion in zero-emission buses.Funding the investmentsHow to pay for the spending has been one of the most contentious areas, with Republicans opposed to Mr. Biden’s plan to raise taxes and empower the I.R.S. to help pay for the package. Instead, the bipartisan group has agreed on a series of so-called pay-fors that largely repurpose already-approved funds, rely on accounting changes to raise funds and, in some cases, assume the projects will ultimately pay for themselves.The biggest funding source is $205 billion that the group says will come from “repurposing of certain Covid relief dollars.” The government has approved trillions in pandemic stimulus funds, and much, but not all, of it has been allocated. The proposal does not specify which money will be repurposed, but Republicans have pushed for the Treasury Department to take back funds from the $350 billion that Democrats approved in March to help states, local governments and tribes deal with pandemic-related costs.Another $53 billion is assumed to come from states that ended more generous federal unemployment benefits early and return that money to the Treasury Department. An additional $28 billion is pegged to requiring more robust reporting around cryptocurrencies, and $56 billion is presumed to come from economic growth “resulting from a 33 percent return on investment in these long-term infrastructure projects.” More