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First Phase of Massive Infrastructure Bill Passes Final Senate Voting

by Brennan Bobbie

Last Sunday evening, the Senate voted to discontinue debates that would have been the final step in passing the massive $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill. Named “Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act” the final voting to pass the bill took place today (Tuesday); resulting in the approval of Biden’s proposed bill to rebuild the aging and crumbling roads and bridges of the nation.

The approved bill only includes funding for the first phase of Biden’s infrastructure plan. The second phase is yet to pass by way of the reconciliation procedure process. It aims to rebuild and reshape the country’s social programs, which includes Medicare expansion and universal pre-K programs. Since Republicans are strongly opposed to these objectives, Democrats will use the budget reconciliation voting process, as it does not require the filibuster 60-vote rule to merit Senate approval.

While last Sunday’s voting to end the debate won with 18 GOP senators agreeing with all 50 Democrats, the votes to approve the bill this Tuesday tallied at 69 in favor of the bill. Minor Leader, Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell joined his 18 colleagues by voting in  favor of the bill.

After ending the debates last Sunday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, voiced hopes that the Republican Senators will continue to give their cooperation when final voting takes place on Tuesday. Although some of the 18 Republican senators sent mixed signals about their support for the bill’s passing, all’s well and has ended well, after the bill garnered a total 69 bipartisan votes of approval.

Key Features of the “Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act”

The infrastructure package includes $550 billion that will be part of new annual federal spending budgets for the next five years, and is distributed among different sectors. Majority of the money will be invested in the following specific projects:

  • $110 billion toward bridges, roads, and other major projects;
  • $66 billion on freight and passenger rail;
  • $65 billion each for expanding broadband Internet access and rebuilding the electric grid;
  • $55 billion for water infrastructure, in which $15 billion will be used to replace lead pipes, and
  • $39 billion for expanding and modernizing transit systems.

Sen.Warren Calls GOP’s Ouster of Rep. Cheney as an Act of Eating Itself

by Brennan Bobbie

When asked about GOP’s ousting of House Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) from her position as party leader, Sen Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) said the party was eating itself. In an interview conducted by Stephen Colbert in his late night show, Sen. Warren said she thinks the Cheney ouster was a short-term ploy to avoid primary challenges, so the GOP could regain House Majority in 2022.

Warren commented that the GOP’s actions were not at all about preserving democracy. It was mainly because Rep. Cheney has been vocal about not supporting the “Big Lie” that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump. Senator Warren told Colbert that it is not how democracy works. To the Republicans in Congress, Rep. Cheney was simply not showing loyalty to Trump by acknowledging the latter was defeated by Joe Biden.

The Massachusetts senator said the 2020 election had many record-breaking results, including the more than 7 million who voted for President Biden, which was a new national record. The Republicans has punished Rep. Cheney for acknowledging this instead of showing loyalty to Donald Trump.

Rep. Cheney Remains Defiant After Ouster

Rep. Cheney’s ouster was presided over by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California by way of a speedy, closed-door conference. According to Illinois Representative Adam Kinzinger, an ally of Rep. Cheney, there were no speeches or debates, as the voting immediately took place.

Although a secret ballot voting was originally planned, voice voting was more important, as a way to determine who else among the Republicans supported Rep. Cheney’s stance against Donald Trump. Rep. Kinzinger described the moment as a sad day, adding that truth cannot co-exist with lies.

After the closed-door voting, Rep. Cheney told reporters that should Trump try to run for another term as president, she will do everything she can to make sure he will never even get near the Oval Office again.

Senate Okays Bill Authorizing Release of $1.9 Trillion for “American Rescue Plan”

by Brennan Bobbie

The bill legislating the $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package known as the “American Rescue Plan” was finally approved by the Senate last Saturday (March 08). On Tuesday, the Democratic-led House of Representatives will concur the bill’s passing. The joint approval will then give the Biden administration the necessary funding to carry out recovery actions aimed at getting the country out of the worst economic crisis ever since the Great Depression.

The bill, which is said to be one of the largest rescue and recovery measures ever to pass Congress, is said to reflect the Democrats’ promises to eradicate disparities that have been in existence even before the occurrence of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.

Key Takeaways of the “American Rescue Plan” Pandemic Relief Package

First and foremost among the key takeaways of the “American Rescue Plan” is the additional $1,400 stimulus money that Americans could have received had the $2 000 pushed for by Trump and the Democrats, been passed in December 2020 by the Republican-led Senate.

The bill also authorizes the new yearly child tax benefits, seen as a way of boosting the income of American households. Unemployment payments for workers still out of a job will also see an increase, while low-income earners will receive assistance in paying for child care.

Analysts project that the financial aid for families could alleviate poverty, in light of struggles to pay mortgages or rents and in buying food as well as other basic necessities.

In addition, the bill provides measures that will lessen the tax bills imposed on businesses, as well as provide funding to improve the finances of state and city governments.

Hospitals and schools will receive major financial boosts as part of the new U.S. government’s responses for helping the people recover from the effects of the coronavirus; to eventually return to regular life a year after the pandemic first arrived.

However, efforts among progressive Democrats to raise minimum wage to $15 per hour, failed. Some so-called centrist Democrats opposed and contended that a federal wage hike is not compatible with the budgetary requirements that can be approved under parliamentary rules.