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Senators fight to amend and finish $1T infrastructure bill

Nearing decision time, senators were struggling to wrap up work on the bipartisan infrastructure plan despite hopes to expedite consideration and voting on the nearly $1 trillion proposal.

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Senators fight to amend and finish $1T infrastructure bill

The Senate was expected to pass the package, which is rare for Republicans and Democrats who are united on a priority that is also essential to President Joe Biden's agenda. As senators worked late into Thursday night to amend the bill, they ran into new difficulties. A procedural vote was scheduled for Saturday.

Just before midnight, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) stated that "We've worked hard, long, and collaboratively, in order to finish this important bipartisan legislation." He said that Saturday's schedule was his priority and that he wanted to complete it.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is the first part of Biden’s infrastructure agenda. It would provide billions in new funding for roads, bridges and waterworks projects, as well as other projects, to almost every corner of the country.

It would be next sent to the House if it is approved by the Senate.

Late-night sessions were canceled due to new debates over proposed amendments that would have changed the 2,700-page package. Nearly two dozen amendments have been submitted by senators so far. None of them has significantly changed the framework for the public works package. Senators were unable to come to an agreement with more than a dozen additional amendments.

Bitcoin was one of the amendments that received the most attention on Thursday.

This bill would bring in $28 billion over 10 year by updating IRS reporting requirements to cryptocurrency brokers. It also mirrors the way stockbrokers report sales to IRS.

Senator Pat Toomey (Republican from Pennsylvania) and others worry that software developers, crypto miners and other individuals would be subject to new IRS reporting requirements. Toomey was instrumental in narrowing the scope of those who must submit the IRS reporting forms.

Toomey stated that if we didn't adopt the amendment, we could do a lot of harm." "We could have a chilling effect upon the development of this technology. That's what I am most worried about."

Sen. Sen. Rob Portman, Ohio, was the author of the provision. He tweeted that he agreed that more could be done to clarify its intent and that the Senate should vote on it.

However, the vote has not yet taken place and the White House weighs in late Thursday suggesting that it favors a different approach than Portman and other senators.

Andrew Bates, White House deputy press secretary, stated that the compromise amendment would "reduce tax evasion on the cryptocurrency market."

He stated that the administration believes that "this provision will enhance tax compliance in the emerging area of finance, and ensure high-income taxpayers are contributing what is owed under the law."

Nearly two hours later, the Senate was at a halt as senators debated their next steps.

Senator Kyrsten Sinema, Arizona's top Democratic negotiator on the bill, stated that "While we were unable agree on additional amendments today but I also look forward to us reconvening on Saturday to proceed under regular order. This will be a historic piece legislation in both its bipartisan nature as well as the impact it will have on our country."

The infrastructure package, which calls for $550billion in new spending over five year, above the projected federal levels, amounts to nearly $1 trillion. This could be the largest investment in roads, bridges and waterworks in many years.

The Congressional Budget Office did a much-anticipated analysis of the bill and concluded that it would increase deficits by approximately $256 billion over the next ten years.

It is unclear whether the budget office's assessment will be able to erode support, especially from Republican senators, who have been wary about using what some consider gimmicks in order to pay for this package. Although the bill drafters claimed that the package would be paid, the budget office stated in some cases that they had included savings that would have occurred regardless if the infrastructure bill passed.

The CBO didn't count $53 billion saved by more than 20 states that cut unemployment benefits before it was due to expire. The CBO also failed to take into account that the bipartisan negotiators claimed $56 billion in economic growth savings, which was not included by the CBO.

The bill's supporters defended the package and claimed it contained additional savings and would increase economic growth in ways that the CBO doesn't measure.

After the bipartisan bill is passed, senators will move on to the more partisan phase of Biden’s agenda. This $3.5 trillion proposal, which the White House calls "human infrastructure", would be used to fund child care support, education, and home health care. These are Democratic priorities that Republicans pledge to reject. The fall will see more debate.

Schumer asks the Senate to pass the bipartisan package as well as a budget blueprint for a larger proposal before senators leave for August recess.

The Senate was expected to be quiet Friday as many lawmakers attend funeral services for former Sen. Mike Enzi in Wyoming. But senators are bracing for another weekend session as they push ahead on both pieces of legislation.

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