What You Need to Know
- The infrastructure package will delay a Trump administration regulation that sought to curb the use of drug rebates.
- The bill would increase IRS surveillance of cryptocurrency transactions, which the Joint Committee on Taxation had estimated would raise $28 billion over a decade.
- The infrastructure package also contains a provision that would require drugmakers to refund Medicare for drug waste.
A Senate plan to spend $550 billion on U.S. infrastructure stands to benefit industries heavily dependent on transportation, with companies including Amazon.com Inc., FedEx Corp. and Comcast Corp. among the biggest winners.
Senators are debating the legislation after reaching agreement over the weekend on final text, and expect to vote on it as soon as this week, setting up action by the House on the measure after they return from a break in September.
While freight haulers, airlines and internet suppliers will be among those getting a boost, the cryptocurrency industry, drugmakers and owners and manufacturers of electric vehicles came up short in the 2,702-page bill.
The legislation represents the federal government’s biggest public works spending spree in decades and would be a major milestone for President Joe Biden’s agenda. It also follows on the $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief bill passed in March.
Here are some of the sectors that will see an impact for better or worse from the bill:
Winners: Road Warriors
Amazon, FedEx and United Parcel Service Inc, are among heavy users of the roadways that would benefit from a roughly $110 billion investment to improve the nation’s roads and bridges.
The companies, along with hundreds of other corporations using the highway system, benefit directly without having to shoulder the cost of the investment from a corporate tax increase or gas tax hike, which Republicans and Democrats agreed to keep out of the deal.
American Airlines Group Inc., Delta Air Lines Inc. and Southwest Airlines Co. would benefit from approximately $25 billion the bill provides for airport upgrades and plans to reduce emissions and congestion.
Similar to the roadway users, they won’t directly pay for the cost of those repairs. The plan also includes $66 billion for Amtrak to upgrade their Northeast corridor lines, as well as new investments in tracks in other portions of the country and high-speed rail.
All those roads, bridges, pipes, electric wires and rails will need an enormous amount of steel, cement, aluminum, copper, with metals industry groups among those lobbying for passage. Prices for many of these commodities have already skyrocketed this year, including steel.
Broadband providers such as Comcast Corp. and Charter Communications Inc. emerged as winners from the infrastructure negotiations, as senators declined to endorse pouring U.S. subsidies to places where companies already built networks, a move that could have spurred more competition.
The bill sends U.S. subsidies to places lacking rudimentary service. In addition, the bill seems set to bring more customers to broadband providers because it extends an emergency broadband program that helps consumers pay for service.
The bill also requires providers to offer a low-cost broadband option but includes language prohibiting the government from setting rates. Large providers already offer such programs.
Analysts have offered differing takes on the provision, ranging from no material impact on providers, to a possible risk if the Biden administration seeks to make sure the cheap packages are available to more customers.
Struggling nuclear power reactors would get a $6 billion lifeline under the bill, a boost that could help prevent plant closures in the face of competition from cheaper electricity produced using natural gas, and, increasingly, renewables.
The assistance could be a boon for operators such as Southern Co. and Exelon Corp., as well as for uranium miners like Lakewood, Colorado-based Energy Fuels, Inc.
Alaska, West Virginia
Alaska and West Virginia, represented by crucial negotiators behind the bipartisan package — Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski and Democratic Senator Joe Manchin — are among the states which would benefit from specific provisions added to the deal.
The bill authorizes federal spending for an Alaska highway, and provides money for energy transmission upgrades, among other provisions. West Virginia would benefit from $1 billion for the Appalachian Regional Commission, a group co-chaired by Gayle Conelly Manchin, the wife of Joe Manchin.