Bipartisan U.S. infrastructure bill doesn't pay for itself- review

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The bipartisan infrastructure legislation making its way through the U.S. Senate is not self-financing, contrary to backers’ assertions, and would increase federal budget deficits by $256 billion over 10 years, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office said on Thursday.

FILE PHOTO: The U.S. Capitol Building is pictured in Washington, U.S., August 1, 2021. REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz/File Photo

The CBO “score” of the $1 trillion bill here to improve U.S. roads, bridges and other infrastructure comes as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer was steering the measure toward passage.

It was unclear whether CBO’s analysis of the bill would prompt any Republicans who have been supportive of the measure to abandon it, which would be a major blow to Democratic President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda.

The CBO said the bill will increase Washington’s revenues by $50 billion over the decade and increase discretionary spending by $415 billion.

The Senate has been debating the bill and voting on amendments since Monday as it awaited the CBO report. [

In procedural votes on the legislation in late July it had garnered more than enough votes to indicate it could pass the Senate on a bipartisan basis, with more than a dozen Republicans joining the Senate’s 50 Democrats and independents.

On Thursday, Democrats and Republicans sought consent from all 100 members of the Senate to move forward with a vote to pass the infrastructure package later in the day so that senators can promptly begin work on a much more contentious $3.5 trillion budget resolution. That would delay a five-week summer break that had been scheduled to begin next week.

“Everybody understands that right behind this is going to be the budget, and I don’t think anybody’s looking to extend this out any longer than necessary,” Republican Senator John Cornyn told reporters.

Negotiators on the bill, which would fund construction projects ranging from road and bridge repairs to expanding broadband internet service, have argued that its $550 billion in new spending was being financed in large part by transferring money from existing programs.

Increased economic activity related to new construction jobs and business growth stemming from the investments was expected to spur government revenue collections, although maybe by not as much as lawmakers hoped.

Lawmakers including Senator Rob Portman, the lead Republican in infrastructure talks, said a Saturday conclusion seemed likely.

Senator Dick Durbin, the chamber’s No. 2 Democrat, told reporters: “The general notion is the sooner the better so we can get to the budget resolution and we don’t have agreement yet.”

If and when the $1 trillion bill passes, the Democratic-controlled Senate will then turn its attention to ramming through the “human infrastructure” budget framework that Republicans oppose by using a special procedure temporarily scrapping the 60-vote threshold for bills to advance.

It would finance more home healthcare and child care, along with climate change and immigration initiatives – projects that Biden wants to pay for in part with tax increases on the wealthy.

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