CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – This afternoon, President Joe Biden announced “We have a deal!” He’s referring to the infrastructure spending bill that a bipartisan group of 21 senators put together last night.
The White House agreed to it this afternoon. The new bipartisan bill is a 1.2 trillion dollar deal. Tt’s a far cry from President Biden’s 2.3 trillion dollar spending plan introduced early on in his presidency.
After months of negotiations, Senators have reached a deal on infrastructure. However, the two parties continue to disagree on the definition of infrastructure. “It’s housing, it’s broadband, we know how we need broadband in eastern and southern Ohio. It affects people’s healthcare it affects their education it affects their ability to get work or to start a business,” said, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown.
Yet, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul says, “There are people going around saying reparations for slavery should be included as infrastructure, free daycare, free healthcare, free cars, free college.”
How to pay for the $1.2 trillion bill has been another issue. “We spend 50 million dollars a year in Afghanistan on their roads and bridges. I’d quit doing that frankly and spend that money at home and that would pay for a good portion of this,” added Paul.
West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito has her own idea, saying, “I basically said we should take some COVID dollars that are not going to be spent and I think there’s close to one hundred billion dollars there that isn’t going to be used for COVID related expenses. Let’s put that towards infrastructure because it’s a job creator.”
West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, was one of the Senators who met with the President today to discuss the bill. He says this bill will benefit West Virginia: “The infrastructure plan will re-build West Virginia roads and bridges. invest in rural broad brand infrastructure in our water systems. It will modernize our electric power sector. Upgrade our airports improve our transit systems and expand passenger rail.”
And although Senator Capito wasn’t a part of this bipartisan bill, after her plan was turned down by the White House, Manchin says this bill has modeled her views: “I think Shelley did one heck of a job, and I mean that. She put a template together that we used.”
Democratic leadership is discussing a two-track approach: One where they would move forward with the bipartisan deal, while also working on a more sweeping plan of democratic priorities with budget reconciliation. It would only require 50 votes to move forward.