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Senators unveil bipartisan infrastructure bill with $550B in new spending

Orange traffic cones line the streets of Black Lives Matter Plaza near the White House in Washington, D.C., on Thursday. The new infrastructure bill includes funding to revitalize roads. Photo by Sarah Silbiger/UPI
Orange traffic cones line the streets of Black Lives Matter Plaza near the White House in Washington, D.C., on Thursday. The new infrastructure bill includes funding to revitalize roads. Photo by Sarah Silbiger/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 2 (UPI) -- A group of bipartisan senators introduced an infrastructure proposal on Sunday night that aims over the next eight years to revitalize U.S. roads, public transit, ports, the electric grid and clean drinking water and wastewater systems, as well as Internet access.

The 2,702-page bill, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, was unveiled in a rare Sunday session of the Senate following lengthy negotiations between 22 senators from both parties and the White House.

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Infrastructure investment has been a priority of President Joe Biden, and the new package is one of two, beside a $3.5 trillion bill introduced last month, that Democrats seek to pass to meet his goal.

The new package, which was fashioned by lead negotiators Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., is estimated at $1.2 trillion and includes some $550 billion in new spending.

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"This has been a long and sometimes difficult process," Sinema said from the Senate floor on Sunday. "But we are proud this evening to announce this legislation, and we look forward very much to working with our colleagues in a collaborative and open way over the coming days to work through this historic investment in infrastructure."

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Portman said modernizing infrastructure is "good for everybody," and the group was led by two principles -- sticking to core infrastructure projects only and not raising taxes to pay for it.

"We kept to those two principles, and I'm so proud of that," he said. "And it's great for the American people."

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Sunday's announcement came days after the senators said they'd agreed to an outline for the proposal before returning to negotiate finer details.

The White House has said the $550 billion in new spending will create, on average, about 2 million jobs per year over the next decade, and represents the largest federal investment in public transportation in U.S. history.

Officials said the plan represents the largest federal investment in passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak, the largest bridge investment since the construction of the interstate highway system and largest investment in clean drinking water and wastewater infrastructure.

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"The bipartisan infrastructure deal will grow the economy, enhance our competitiveness, create jobs and make our economy more sustainable, resilient and just," the White House said in a statement.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York told lawmakers Sunday the bill could be passed "in a matter of days." After that, he said he'll take up Democrats' $3.5 trillion budget agreement.

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"I've set out two very ambitious goals for the Senate this summer, and we are now on our way to achieving both. As I said, both tracks -- this one and the other -- are very much needed by the American people, and we must accomplish both," he said.

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