- House Democrats announced Friday they are starting work on an infrastructure package.
- Pelosi said she hoped talks would be bipartisan on climate, broadband, and transportation issues.
- Hammering out a bill may end up requiring a lengthy stretch of negotiations.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
House Democrats said on Friday afternoon they have officially started work on an infrastructure package, kicking off what appears likely to be a lengthy stretch of negotiations on a multitrillion-dollar economic recovery bill.
“Building our transportation system has long been bipartisan,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement. “It is our hope that spirit will prevail as we address other critical needs in energy and broadband, education and housing, water systems and other priorities.”
She went on: “As we engage in these job-creating initiatives, we must discuss their impact on the federal budget, on creating economic growth and on preserving our planet.”
Rep. Richard Neal of Massachusetts, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, said in a statement that Pelosi had instructed him to explore “how we can use the tax code to invest in modernizing and uplifting our communities while creating good jobs that will get Americans back on their feet.”
The statements came only hours after Pelosi, Neal, and other top Democrats from both chambers of Congress took a victory lap at the White House on a $US1.9 ($2) trillion stimulus package that the president signed into law Thursday. Democrats are attempting to quickly capitalize on the law’s popularity with the public and show that their control of Congress and the White House is producing tangible benefits for ordinary Americans, like the $US1,400 ($1,806) direct payments in the stimulus.
Biden campaigned on a $US2 ($3) trillion infrastructure proposal that would focus on addressing climate change, energy reform, and strengthening the middle class. Some Democrats like moderate Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia have said they could support a $US4 ($5) trillion infrastructure and jobs bill.
But Democrats are likely to face hurdles as whether to employ budget reconciliation to fast-track parts of it in a party-line vote, and how to pay for it. Some Senate Democrats and the Biden administration favor raising taxes on corporations and the wealthy, a step likely to trigger Republican opposition.
Pelosi elaborated on potential elements of an infrastructure package during her weekly press conference on Thursday, calling it one of her “favorite subjects.”
“It’s not just roads and bridges, mass transit and high-speed rail, it’s also about water systems,” she said. “Some of the water systems we have are over 100 years old.”
The Biden administration initially said it would release an infrastructure plan in February. It never did so and hasn’t outlined any specifics. Still, there are early indications of its possible scope.
The White House chief of staff, Ron Klain, told Punchbowl News on Wednesday that the administration views robust spending on infrastructure as a way for the US to bolster its global competitiveness. He also said it could include funding for new fleets of electric-vehicle-powering stations and clean power.