Group is worried about taking advantage of infrastructure COVID bailouts


Washington (AP) — On Friday, a long-term care facility representative organization avoids immersing itself in the COVID Relief Fund to help pay about $ 600 billion in new spending sought to build public works. I urged lawmakers working on a bipartisan infrastructure plan.

Requests come as lawmakers struggle to end negotiations on the package amid stubborn disagreements over new payment methods for spending. Parliamentarians and staff work throughout the weekend, arranging rising tensions over funding for water resources, public transport, and other details, and hope they will be in the final stages of their work.

A group representing long-term care facilities said the use of virus relief funding was “short-sighted, especially as the COVID-19 variant continues to spread.” The safety of the elderly and their caregivers in our country. “

Senators working on infrastructure plans want to prepare the bill for voting next week. President Joe Biden made passing a bipartisan plan a top priority. This is the first of a two-part $ 4 trillion reconstruction proposal, but the Senate test vote failed this week after the Republicans said they needed more time to complete the package and see more details. Did.

Negotiators have struggled with how to pay new spending without raising user charges such as income tax and federal gas tax. They are looking at other sources, such as revoking the Trump era rules for drug rebates, redirecting billions of dollars from last year’s COVID bailout, and taking advantage of other potential sources of funding.

Even if the negotiators reach an agreement, it is not entirely clear whether the funding will go through a rally with the Congressional Budget Office, the chief arbitrator of many legislations in Parliament. If the final accounting shows that the package has not been fully paid, some lawmakers may use it as another reason to vote against it.

“People will always find problems with our payments,” Republican Senator Bill Cassidy told Bloomberg Television. “On the other hand, we can pay for it and not only pay for it, but also point out the long-term benefits of society. According to multiple economists throughout the political spectrum, the economy will benefit. . “

A group representing nursing homes and other long-term care facilities called on negotiators on Friday not to divert money from a fund established to reimburse healthcare providers for the cost and loss of income from COVID-19.

The Department of Health and Human Services said Friday that of the approximately $ 178 billion parliament approved by the fund through various bailouts, there are approximately $ 24 billion that have not yet been allocated to providers.

Some of the group said they were unable to receive reimbursement and loss of income incurred in the second half of 2020 and this year and were worried about the next round of funding from HHS.

A Democratic aide, who was granted anonymity to discuss the negotiations, confirmed that the method of redirecting certain COVID bailout dollars was still in an unresolved issue. The other is the amount of money that will be devoted to public transportation. There is also a dispute over the broadband fund and labor law, the aide said.

Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, chair of the Banking Commission, and Tom Carper of Delaware, chair of the Environmental Public Works Commission, said “strong funding” for transportation was essential. Issued a joint statement.

“We don’t support packages that ignore this basic part of our country’s infrastructure,” said the two senators.

Republican Senator Mitt Romney, R-Utah, said 20% of the money from the Highway Trust was traditionally sent to transportation, compared to 80% for roads and bridges, a bipartisan framework. Transit the ratio.

Senator Tammy Duckworth, Illinois, has also expressed concern about the water and sewerage segment of the bill. She warned that she could not promise to support the final bill unless she sponsored and funded the $ 35.9 billion water bill that passed the Senate in 89-2 votes.

Senator said he was confident that the bill would be fully funded, but “now we hear that it may be moved.” He said $ 15 billion could be specifically allocated to lead pipe removal, rather than giving state and local governments the flexibility to use the most appropriate funds, including lead pipe removal. rice field.

The final package will require the assistance of 60 senators in evenly divided 50-50 senators to move beyond filibuster. Last week’s test vote failed in line with party policy.

The package then goes to the House of Representatives. There, some Democrats fear that priorities have been overlooked during Senate negotiations and warn that their vote should not be taken for granted.

Parliament then plans to pass the Democratic Party on its own under special budget adjustment rules that allow a 51-vote threshold in the Senate. Look at your goals.