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US Rep. Richard Neal expects passage of spending package with adjustments

SPRINGFIELD — U.S. Rep. Richard E. Neal said Tuesday that he is confident that a multi-trillion dollar infrastructure and social spending bill will pass Congress, but with some accommodations to bring down the price tag.

“It’s going to get done,” said Neal, D-Springfield, who is chairman of House Ways and Means. “I think we can reassure everybody. I think the initiative that the president has proposed is not only timely but just as important, I think it would spur economic investment and development.”

Neal commented on President Joe Biden’s spending proposal for infrastructure and social programs as it was locked in debate at Capitol Hill and in possible jeopardy. There are a pair of bills intended to boost spending for social services, health and environmental programs and infrastructure projects.

Neal said he had spoken with Biden on Friday and the president was “upbeat.”

Biden had stated on Saturday that he would “work like hell” to pass his domestic spending plan.

“And I think that the President has right-sized his proposal and he understands there is going to be some changes,” Neal said. “And I think that the initiative , meets all the tests that have been established but just as importantly he also recognized in his comments that the price of the agreement is going to come down. So I think he left enough room there for everybody.”

While Republicans and some moderate Democrats have balked at the proposed $3.5 trillion social package, as too expensive, progressive Democrats have fought to keep their priorities in the bill. There is another $1 trillion targeting the country’s infrastructure, including highways, bridges and rail, which Neal described as “in very bad shape.”

Neal would not predict a final cost figure on the spending bill, saying that would be set by the Senate, but said he anticipates it will gain passage in the near future. He was planning to discuss the bill with Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday.

Neal said there is a tax plan to finance the package and the President was “upbeat” on Friday. The debt ceiling must be raised, Neal said, adding he is sure that will happen,

“I think it’s important to acknowledge here that we are the majority party,” Neal said. “And governance is part of being the majority.

The bills will likely be linked through the process of reconciliation, Neal said.