Americas

House Democrats advance Biden's almost US$5 trillion in spending plans

WASHINGTON (AFP) – US President Joe Biden’s plans to spend nearly US$5 trillion (S$6.7 trillion) to change the world’s largest economy advanced in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (Aug 24), after Democratic leaders reached an agreement with centrist lawmakers to end a dispute that threatened the Bills.

Biden and his Democratic allies controlling the chamber are pushing for passage of both a US$1.2 trillion overhaul to the country’s infrastructure and a Bill costing US$3.5 trillion over 10 years that would pay for improvements to education, health care and climate change resiliency.

While the infrastructure Bill has already won passage in the Senate with some votes from Republicans, Democrats have found no opposition support for the second, larger Bill, and were planning to approve it with their votes alone – a tough task given their narrow majorities in both chambers of Congress.

The dispute erupted when centrist Democrats in the House said the infrastructure Bill must be voted on first, but on Tuesday, those lawmakers backed a compromise resolution that would see the infrastructure measure put to a vote in about a month.

“I am committing to pass the bipartisan infrastructure Bill by Sept 27. I do so with a commitment to rally House Democratic support for its passage,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement.

The resolution paves the way for further negotiations over the US$3.5 trillion measure with the aim of passing it by Sept 15.

The Democrats can afford to lose no votes in the Senate where two of their lawmakers have already said they won’t vote for the Bill unless its price is reduced.

Final votes on the Bills are not expected until next month or later in the autumn.

The infrastructure measure includes US$550 billion in new spending and is aimed at revitalising and expanding the nation’s roads, railways, bridges and broadband access.

The US$3.5 trillion measure is supported by the Democratic leaders and its progressive faction, and includes funding for climate measures, infrastructure investments left out of the other Bill, residency status for millions of migrant workers, and two years of paid tuition at public universities.

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