U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Tuesday that the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill passed by the Senate is much needed and not any kind of “stimulus.”
“It's important to understand what this bill is and what it isn’t. It is not a stimulus package like the American Rescue Plan, intended to help people weather a crisis,” Yellen said in a statement Tuesday. “Instead, this bill is designed to do the hard, generational work of building a stronger, more structurally sound economy with smart investments in the future. Let’s be very clear, that is not a task that can be completed in one piece of legislation.”
The bipartisan bill passed the Senate Tuesday 69-30 after several tense weeks of negotiations between Democrats and Republicans.
In June, 11 Republicans signed on to the plan to help it avoid a filibuster, and gain approval in the upper chamber.
According to the White House, the bill includes around $500 billion in new spending over the next several years and is focused on repairing and replacing the nation’s crumbling roads, bridges, tunnels, seaports, airports, and rail lines.
“The historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework will make life better for millions of Americans, create a generation of good-paying union jobs and economic growth, and position the United States to win the 21st century, including on many of the key technologies needed to combat the climate crisis,” the White House said in a statement when the agreement was reached in June. “That’s what President (Joe) Biden and Vice President Harris were elected to do.”
The bill will use unspent COVID relief money from previous legislation to help pay its cost, the White House said.
“For more than a generation, funding for crucial national priorities like infrastructure has been on a downward trajectory, harming workers and businesses alike,” Yellen’s statement Tuesday said. “During the pandemic, we saw how a broadband network that was not accessible for millions of Americans made it more challenging for businesses to operate and workers to perform their jobs remotely. Now after many years, this trend of underinvestment is being reversed. That’s what today’s vote signifies. I applaud the leadership and bipartisanship of President Biden and all the senators who supported this critical legislation.”
The bill now must go to the House for final passage and then to Biden’s desk to be signed into law.
“They said they’re willing to work in a bipartisan manner, and I want to thank them for keeping their word, that’s just what they did,” Biden said after Tuesday’s vote. “After years and years of infrastructure week, we’re on the cusp of an infrastructure decade. America, this is how we truly build back better,” he added. “This bill is going to put people to work, modernizing our roads and our highways and our bridges.”
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