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Five controversial policies tucked inside 2,700-page bipartisan Senate infrastructure bill

The White House and a bipartisan group of senators negotiated the framework for the legislation, which includes several controversial policies as it moves closer to final passage.

Published: August 9, 2021 2:51pm

Updated: August 10, 2021 5:19pm

Carefully tucked away inside the 2,700-page bipartisan infrastructure bill that is now poised for passage in the Senate are some controversial policies, including these five:

1. The bill includes a mandate for vehicle manufactures to install "drunk and impaired driving prevention technology" as a standard feature inside of new vehicles.

2. The legislation contains a $118 billion bailout for the Highway Trust Fund, which is currently funded primarily through federal taxes on gas and diesel fuel. As the text of the bill does not specify a revenue source to fully cover the $118 billion, funds would be transferred from the Treasury General Fund to the Highway Trust Fund.

3. A pilot program to create a vehicle miles traveled system for taxing drivers based on their annual vehicle mileage is hidden away in the bill's section 13002, entitled "National motor vehicle per-mile user fee pilot." Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg floated the idea of taxing motorists based on the number of miles they travel each year during his confirmation process. 

4. The cryptocurrency provisions in the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill have been criticized by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. The bill includes an IRS reporting requirement for brokers of cryptocurrency transactions.

The broad definition of broker in the original version of the bill has sparked several amendments. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Thursday that the Biden Administration wants to reduce "tax evasion" in the cryptocurrency market.

Psaki also said the White House supports an amendment introduced by Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) that would  more narrowly define broker in the bill.

There is a competing amendment introduced by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Pat Toomey. The senators are working on a compromise amendment, which conservatives like Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz oppose. 

5. The bill grants select cabinet secretaries the authority to fully fund select infrastructure projects with taxpayer dollars by waiving cost-sharing rules.


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