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Schumer: Democrats considering option to pay for all of infrastructure agenda

Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y) speaks to reporters on July 13 following the policy luncheon
Greg Nash

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced Tuesday that Senate Democrats are considering the possibility of paying for all of their infrastructure agenda, which could well exceed $4 trillion.

Democrats on the Senate Budget Committee are considering an infrastructure spending number between $3.5 trillion and $6 trillion, and Schumer said that paying for all of it though tax hikes, spending reforms or other revenue raisers is “doable.” 

“One of the things that was presented in our caucus is that we could fully pay for the bill. That’s one of the options on the table. That is doable. Absolutely,” Schumer told reporters after a Democratic caucus lunch.

Schumer made his remarks soon after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), a key centrist, said he wants Democrats to pay for all of the cost of a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package as well as a larger budget reconciliation bill that is expected to cost at least $3.5 trillion.

“I think everything should be paid for. We’ve put enough free money out,” Manchin told reporters Tuesday before the lunch.

Democrats familiar with the budget talks, which would set the spending goal for a reconciliation package, say they’re “trending” toward a compromise number of $3.5 trillion. 

That means Senate Democrats would need to come up with an extra $1 trillion of revenue above the $2.4 trillion President Biden has proposed collecting through a variety of tax increases and reforms, including a proposal to raise the corporate income tax rate from 21 percent to 28 percent.

Many Democrats, however, are not fans of the idea of paying for all of Biden’s infrastructure agenda.

“I think it’s nuts to not amortize payments for infrastructure. Hard infrastructure is the kind of thing you should be paying for over the course of 30, 40, 50 years,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who argues that one-time infrastructure investments should be financed with deficit spending.

“I didn’t pay for my house in cash,” he said.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), a member of the Budget Committee, said Monday she’s open to the idea of using deficit spending to cover infrastructure investments. 

“I think that’s a really legitimate point,” she said. 

The $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure plan, which is expected to come to the Senate floor later this month, is said to be fully offset with a variety of revenue-raising and cost-cutting measures, though some lawmakers disagree on some of the estimates. 

Tags Charles Schumer Chris Murphy Debbie Stabenow Joe Biden Joe Manchin
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