Senator Mark Warner (D-Virginia) and other members of a bipartisan team of senators announced an infrastructure plan that includes $579 billion in new spending over the next five years. President Joe Biden also announced his support for the deal on Thursday. Warner and Biden highlighted it as a win for bipartisanship. At the same time, Biden emphasized that he wouldn’t sign the bill without Democrats passing an additional larger infrastructure bill through reconciliation.
“This group of senators, and all the American people, can be proud today, because we’ve reaffirmed once again: we are the United States of America,” Biden said. “I know a lot of you in the press, particularly, doubt that unity is possible, that anything bipartisan is possible. It’s hard, but it’s necessary, and it can get done.”
“When we announced the framework at $579 billion last week, it took a lot of work to get there and to maintain that, and I commend all of my colleagues,” Warner told the media. “I mentioned to the President, and Susan [Collins] and I, and a number of us, yesterday were at the funeral of my dear friend John Warner. My hope is, when this framework becomes law, that we do it in the spirit of John Warner, and I would hope to convince my colleagues that we actually name this legislation after him. We all commended his ability to work with people across party lines, the fact that he always put country first, and I think my colleagues have demonstrated that again.”
Politico reported that a 50-50 split is empowering moderates: “The Senate’s centrist core is suddenly on a hot streak.”
But it’s unclear if hard-liners from both parties will support the bill. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) said Wednesday that a smaller bipartisan infrastructure bill would need to be accompanied by a larger Democratic bill. “One can’t be done without the other,” he said, according to The Hill.
Biden made a similar statement Thursday.
“If only one comes to me, this is the only one that comes to me, I’m not signing it,” he said, leading Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) to say Biden had caved on his own bipartisan messaging, The Hill reported.
The proposal announced Thursday has categories including roads, safety, public transit, electric transit, water infrastructure, environmental remediation, and resilience. Proposed sources of funding include redirecting unused unemployment insurance relief funds, Superfund fees for chemicals, state and local government investment, and strategic petroleum reserve sales. A gas tax increase, opposed by Democrats, does not appear to be included. Neither does a corporate tax rate increase, opposed by Republicans. Other options for funding infrastructure include better enforcement of current tax law on the top one percent of Americans.
In 2017 Trump and Republicans cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent, according to ProCon.org. One proposed corporate tax increase would raise the rate from 21 percent to 28 percent, the Tax Foundation reports.
A corporate tax increase is seen as a way to pay for the program without increasing taxes on average Americans and without increasing the deficit. But some business and corporate energy advocates say now is the wrong time to raise the corporate tax rate. In May, a new energy policy advocacy group became active in Virginia — the Virginia Energy Consumer Trust (VECT). They’re also opposing a rate increase.
VECT Executive Director David Hudgins said in a statement, “At a time when Virginia families and businesses are attempting to get back on their feet, we need policymakers to focus on steps to support economic recovery and growth. Infrastructure and energy policies are key areas of public importance, and they ought to be developed in a responsible, consistent fashion, rather than pitting one against the other.”
Some of Virginia’s Republican congressmen are opposed to a rate increase as well.
“Any corporate tax hike would almost certainly be passed on to consumers. There are better ways to pay for infrastructure,” Congressman Morgan Griffith (R-Virginia-09) said in a statement.
Congressman Ben Cline (R-Virginia-06) said in a statement, “Raising the corporate tax rate will have a significantly negative impact on both businesses and individuals. As businesses struggle to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, companies will be forced to pass the burden on to the American people. Consumers are already paying more at the pump, at the supermarket, and at the hardware store, and additional taxes would only make things worse.”
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