The United States Senate has approved a $1 trillion infrastructure spending bill as well as a $3.5 trillion budget resolution for other social programs. The infrastructure bill now goes to the House, while the budget resolution will be used by various Senate committees to draft legislation to be considered this fall. Neither the Senate-approved amounts nor ultimate passage in the House of Representatives are guaranteed.
As Christian families look at the current national debt, which now stands at over $28 trillion, they are rightly concerned about what this additional spending might do to their pocketbooks, as well as what leaving such a large debt for their grandchildren will do to their quality of life. In addition to economic issues, the bills raise further questions regarding the protection of preborn babies, religious freedom, and sexual orientation and gender identity issues.
On Tuesday, the Senate voted 69-30 to approve the infrastructure bill, which had been negotiated by a bipartisan group of senators in consultation with the White House. Nineteen Republicans joined all 50 Democrats in voting for the bill, which approves $550 billion in new spending along with $450 billion in continued spending for programs previously approved and budgeted through the end of September.
If you thought “infrastructure” consisted of roads and bridges, you’re only partially correct. The new $550 billion worth of spending breaks down like this:
Roads, bridges, major projects – $48 billion
Transportation safety programs – $11 billion
Public transit – buses and trains – $39 billion
Amtrak – $66 billion
Electric Vehicle infrastructure (charging stations) – $7.5 billion
School buses and ferries – $7.5 billion
Reconnecting communities (divided by highway projects) – $1 billion
Airports, ports and waterways – $42 billion
Resilience and western water infrastructure (protecting power facilities from natural disasters) – $50 billion
Clean drinking water (replacing lead piping systems) – $55 billion
High-speed internet – $65 billion
Environmental remediation (Superfund cleanup projects) – $21 billion
Power infrastructure (modernizing the electric power grid) – $73 billion
Impacts of infrastructure bill on families
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) last week said the $1 trillion infrastructure bill would increase federal budget deficits by $256 billion over 10 years, according to Reuters.
David Ditch, with The Heritage Foundation, says that if CBO’s numbers are accurate, the infrastructure bill will add $2,900 to each household’s share of the national debt, which is currently at $220,000 per household.
The CBO projects that the federal government – even before this bill is considered – will spend $3 trillion more than it takes in this year. That deficit spending has to be financed through the sale of government bonds and other instruments, which then creates not just the duty to pay off those bonds eventually, but to pay interest on them in the interim.
Anyone who has overspent on credit cards knows the bind that puts you in – more and more of your income goes to paying off the debt, and unless you make hard decisions to cut other spending, you soon spiral yourself into major problems. It’s the same for the federal government, which ultimately looks to you and me to help get it out of the jams it creates for itself.
It’s a matter of good stewardship.
On top of that, the bill also raises questions concerning religious freedom. Under the section concerning high-speed internet, which funds $69 billion in new spending, the law imposes a “nondiscrimination” requirement on potential recipients of that money because of its inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes.
That, according to experts with the Religious Freedom Institute, means that “Rural faith-based colleges and universities, small faith-based businesses, and religious hospitals and medical clinics, sometimes providing the only healthcare services for miles, could be forced to violate their religious conscience or be denied participation in the program.”
$3.5 trillion budget resolution
The Senate then passed, in a strictly partisan 50-49 vote, what is called the Democrat “budget blueprint.” It would amount to $3.5 trillion in even more spending on some of the Left’s favored projects, including everything from combatting climate change to “free” preschool and community college. It is aimed, according to The New York Times, at “creating the largest expansion of the federal safety net in nearly six decades.”
Because the budget resolution was part of a process called “reconciliation,” under Senate rules it does not have to receive the 60 votes other legislation does in order to get past the procedural hurdle known as “cloture.” In reconciliation, the bill only needs a majority to pass.
The budget resolution may have been one-sided in the end, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t some victories for both sides in the process. Consideration of the resolution included a “vote-a-rama,” a marathon event where each side of the political aisle can offer up an unlimited number of amendments to be voted up or down, in quick succession.
Although the amendments are non-binding – because the legislation implementing the resolution doesn’t yet exist – they do tend to sort out where issues can be resolved on a bipartisan basis and which cannot.
The good news for pro-life Americans is that Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford’s amendment to add Hyde Amendment language prohibiting the taxpayer funding of abortion to the spending resolution, passed by a vote of 50-49. And an amendment expressing support for healthcare workers who don’t want to participate in abortions passed.
However, another pro-life amendment – to ban abortion after 20 weeks gestation – offered by Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy was defeated 51-48.
The resolution’s passage means that various Senate and House committees will now have until September 15 to draft the necessary legislation to implement the budget, at which time one vote will be taken on the entire package. At the moment, only $1.75 trillion of the $3.5 trillion budget will be paid for. The resolution requires increasing taxes on upper income households, an increase in corporate tax rates, and other offsets. If Congress doesn’t come up with a way to pay for the remaining spending, the rest will presumably be financed through debt, thus increasing the current national debt even further.
Heritage’s David Ditch calls the $3.5 trillion spending resolution “the largest piece of legislation in the history of the world.” If so, then Americans are right to put it under a microscope and ask tough questions as to the need for the various programs being funded. Will this huge amount of spending further add to rising inflation rates? Will increasing corporate taxes to pay for these programs depress business expansion and, therefore, job creation?
Most importantly, are we saddling our children and grandchildren with a debt burden that is grossly unfair to them? What is our duty to them?
Proverbs 13:22 (ESV) reminds us, “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children.” Leaving future generations with the responsibility for paying off our debt is probably not what Scripture has in mind.
Photo from Shutterstock.