FirstFT: US Senate set to pass $1tn infrastructure package in bipartisan vote


The US Senate is set to pass a $1tn package to invest in America’s crumbling infrastructure with significant Republican support, a bipartisan vote that will be seen as a major legislative achievement of Joe Biden’s young presidency.

Senators voted 68-29 late on Sunday to end the debate on the infrastructure bill. Eighteen Republicans joined with Democrats in clearing the procedural hurdle, a rare cross-aisle display in a Senate that is sharply divided. Chuck Schumer, the Senate’s top Democrat, confirmed late on Monday that the final vote on the bill would take place on Tuesday morning.

A similar number of Senate Republicans are likely to back its final passage. The bill focuses on so-called hard infrastructure, including $110bn for roads, bridges and other major building projects, along with $66bn in passenger and freight rail and $39bn in other forms of public transport.

Republican support for the bill has grown despite attempts by Donald Trump to derail the legislation, one of the first signs the former president’s hold on the party may be weakening. Once the bill is passed by the Senate, it will need to be approved by the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives before Biden signs it into law.

Five more stories in the news

1. US debt investors spooked by Delta variant Bonds issued by cruise companies, cinema operators and retailers all fell in price last week, as investors backed away from the debt of some Covid-afflicted companies after re-evaluating the pace of the reopening of the US economy.

2. Joint Russian and Chinese military exercise stirs US unease Russian forces are participating in a regular Chinese military exercise for the first time this week, stoking concerns among western analysts that the two countries are developing joint operational capabilities.

3. Epstein accuser sues Prince Andrew Prince Andrew has been sued in New York by Virginia Giuffre, a victim of the late sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, who claims she was forced to have sex with the royal under duress while still a minor. Prince Andrew has previously said that he had no recollection of meeting Giuffre and denied her public allegations.

4. Taliban sweeps across northern bastions of warlord resistance The Islamist militant group captured five Afghan provincial capitals over the weekend and another on Monday, increasing pressure on Kabul’s government as US forces prepare to leave the country.

5. SoftBank’s Vision Fund vows to keep investing in China despite crackdown SoftBank’s bets on an increasingly uncertain Chinese technology market have become the prime focus for shareholders as the conglomerate reported a sharp drop in quarterly net profits. But the Vision Fund’s finance chief told the FT that its investment strategy in China remained unchanged.

Coronavirus digest

  • The Pentagon plans to make jabs mandatory for US troops by mid-September.

  • China’s worst coronavirus outbreak since last year is adding to concerns about the quality of its domestically developed vaccines amid a dearth of data on the efficacy of the shots. A series of recently published data and policy measures also indicated that China’s roaring economic recovery from the pandemic was under pressure.

  • BioNTech beat sales expectations for a second straight quarter as profits jumped to almost €2.8bn on soaring demand for its coronavirus vaccine.

  • Oil was hit with renewed selling pressure yesterday, falling below $70 a barrel over concerns about the Delta variant sapping demand in Asia.

Line chart of $ per barrel showing Oil prices slip from 2021 highs

Europe’s economic and financial “hangover” from the pandemic will be much longer and more severe than the pain in the US, according to Victor Khosla, the head of US investment group Strategic Value Partners, which specialises in corporate distress. Sign up for our Coronavirus Business Update newsletter and follow our live blog for the latest.

The day ahead

Earnings Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase will report its second-quarter earnings. See the full list here.

Latvia state of emergency The country said it was poised to declare a state of emergency on its border with Belarus and build a fence there to stem a flow of migrants.

What else we’re reading

Washington vs Big Tech In the past two months as chair of the Federal Trade Commission, Lina Khan has begun a revamp of the US organisation tasked with writing competition rules and enforcing them. She has, among other moves, rescinded policies designed to limit its legal powers and changed the way it makes decisions. But officials are worried about what the changes mean for their institution.

Lina Khan: FTC revamp
Lina Khan: FTC revamp © POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Robinhood’s ‘fun money’ problem It attracted a new generation of investors to the stock market but stable, long-term investors will be critical to Robinhood’s future revenue growth. Analysts and rivals say that it has a long way to go. Customers interviewed by the FT noted Robinhood is where they play around, while they hold their larger and less actively traded investments elsewhere.

The NDA boom: bad for employers and workers Non-disclosure agreements, originally used to protect trade secrets, have become commonplace in US settlement agreements, severance packages and employment contracts. But they can stop information on fraud or mistreatment from reaching the public, writes Sarah O’Connor.

Berlin’s vote on seizing rental properties A radical campaign urging the city government to expropriate some 240,000 properties from Germany’s largest publicly listed residential landlords is gaining ground. It comes amid accusations that lower income, long-term residents are being squeezed out through shoddy maintenance and jacked-up rents. Read part four of our global house prices series.

The discontents of Middle East democracy A decade ago, people across the Arab world were cheering the fall of despots. Now, they are cheering the fall of democracy, writes Gideon Rachman. These setbacks for political freedom have global implications.


After FT writers shared stories of the summer that stayed with them, we wanted to know about your favourite trips. From experiencing the wilderness of Yellowstone National Park to backpacking through Zimbabwe, here’s what FT readers said about their life-changing holidays.

Travellers on a houseboat hotel on Lake Kariba in Zimbabwe in the 1990s © Alamy Stock Photo
Travellers on a houseboat hotel on Lake Kariba in Zimbabwe in the 1990s © Alamy Stock Photo

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