Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework

August 7, 2021

This week, the Senate has been working on the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework, or the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act

Since the beginning, I’ve said that infrastructure can and should be bipartisan. I want to commend my colleagues who have worked diligently to craft this bipartisan plan. It’s not perfect, but their effort to bring all parties to the table is praiseworthy. 

I’ve had the opportunity to work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to add amendments to this legislation. On Wednesday, Senator Mark Kelly (D-AZ) and I reintroduced the Highway Cost Allocation Act as an amendment to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework. The Senate adopted this amendment 95-3. This amendment would require the Secretary of the Department of Transportation to conduct a study of vehicular highway use to understand how Americans’ use of our highway system has changed since the last study from many years ago. 

The ensuing study would provide Congress and the Department of Transportation with updated information about highway use for the first time since 1997, almost a quarter of a century ago. This information would inform decisions to address the Highway Trust Fund’s revenue shortfalls during its next reauthorization cycle. 

I also worked with Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) to introduce an amendment clarifying the definition of “broker” with respect to digital asset third-party reporting requirements. Our amendment ensures that only those who are actually buying and selling digital assets have to report those transactions to the Internal Revenue Service, not those who are simply developing products to facilitate the transactions. 

Our amendment would make certain that those who are buying and selling digital assets are fully integrated into our financial system (i.e. they are paying taxes on their earnings), but those who are innovating and facilitating transactions aren’t being taxed on the earnings of others. This is a common-sense clarification that will promote innovation in this space. This is a complicated issue, and it’s important that we discuss it and craft legislation transparently to ensure stakeholders have an opportunity to give advice. 

I’m still very concerned about the price tag on this bill. It’s essential that we invest the funds needed to repair and modernize hard infrastructure around the country. Unfortunately, when a bill like this is drafted behind closed doors and not subject to the traditional committee process, many extra “pet projects” get added to the mix. That’s what happened here. The total bill will be around $1.2 trillion, and nearly a quarter of that isn’t paid for, which means we’re passing those costs down to our children and grandchildren. We’re kicking the can down the road yet again. We need to do some serious soul searching. Are the pet projects we want now worth the cost placed on future generations? I’m not convinced they are, so I’ll keep fighting for fiscal sanity in this town.