Does the infrastructure bill include more money for Social Security or unemployment benefits?
President Biden was hoping to pass a huge infrastructure package which could reshape American society, but has been forced to compromise to appease moderates in his party.
Reports on Monday suggest that the White House is increasingly confident of holding a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill before the end of the week, after progressive lawmakers signalled that they would back the slimmed-down proposal.
CNN report that President Biden has assured progressive members in the House of Representatives that all 50 Democrats in the Senate are willing to vote in favour of the larger $1.75 trillion social safety net bill.
Moderate Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin have both been reluctant to commit their support to the larger package, but did vote in favour of the infrastructure bill last week.
Will the infrastructure bill boost Social Security or unemployment benefits payments?
Neither of the two major reconciliation bills currently being considered in Congress include additional funding for either Social Security (SS) or unemployment compensation. However SS payments will increase next year, thanks to the 5.9% cost-of-living adjustment boost.
The infrastructure bill will bring around $550 billion of new federal funding, with the vast majority to be spent on upgrading traditional infrastructure like bridges, roads and utilities. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the bill will add around $256 billion to the national debt over the next decade.
The bill will include $110 billion for roads, bridges and other major projects; $39 billion to modernise the public transport networks; a $65 billion boost for broadband provision; and $170 billion to overhaul the nation’s electrical and water infrastructures.
House Democrats propose alternative Social Security funding
However there are efforts in Congress to provide a boost for Social Security recipients. Rep. John Larson, a Democrat for Connecticut and chairman of the House Ways and Means subcommittee on Social Security, has introduced a new bill called the Social Security 2100 Act.
The bill, also known as SS 2100: A Sacred Trust, is a response to estimates from the Social Security Administration that the trust funds which support the programme will begin to run dry in just 13 years. By 2034 it is thought that nearly a quarter of promised benefits will be unpayable.
The bill would provide funding to see that deadline extended to 2038, giving Congress more time to search for a solution. The legislation has been co-sponsored by Sen. Richard Blumenthal and the likes of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal both appeared with Larson to unveil the proposal.
Rep. Larson said of the proposals: “Social Security 2100: A Sacred Trust will expand benefits and strengthen Social Security. The pandemic has only underscored what we already knew and has exacerbated systemic inequities - current benefits are not enough.”
He added: “For too long, Congress has forsaken its duty to enhance benefits. With 10,000 Baby Boomers a day becoming eligible, and with Millennials needing Social Security more than any generation, the time for Congress to act is now.”
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