- With a COVID-19 relief package out of the way, Biden is setting his sights on an infrastructure bill.
- Some Democrats are reportedly discussing spending as much as $US4 ($5) trillion on the package.
- The bill will likely be climate-oriented and emphasize foreign competitiveness.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Now that President Joe Biden has secured his first major legislative victory – the passage of a $US1.9 ($2) trillion COVID-19 relief package – the administration is moving to tackle its next goal: an infrastructure bill.
Biden campaigned for a $US2 ($3) trillion infrastructure bill that would focus on climate change, energy reform, and expanding the middle class. But according to Politico, some Democrats are already privately discussing going as high as $US4 ($5) trillion. It’s a price tag that has the tentative support of Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a critical swing vote in an evenly-divided Senate.
Still, Democrats are in the early stages of their infrastructure push. Speaker Nancy Pelosi laid out an expansive view at of infrastructure priorities at her weekly press conference, saying “the list goes on and on.”
“It’s not just roads and bridges, mass transit and high-speed rail, it’s also about water systems,” she said Thursday. “Some of the water systems we have are over 100 years old.”
-Erica Werner (@ericawerner) March 11, 2021
The bill will also likely be climate-oriented.
“I think the number one priority for the White House and Congress will be to build the climate initiatives we’ve so much wanted into an infrastructure bill,” Virginia Rep. Don Beyer told Insider last month. “The second big thing would be accessible, affordable broadband in rural America and lower-income, urban America.”
The Biden administration initially aimed to release a jobs plan in February upon the swift passage of the emergency relief bill. But no proposal was released last month, and the White House has repeatedly declined to release specifics of the administration’s next legislative priority.
But a clearer image is starting to emerge.
White House chief of staff Ron Klain told Punchbowl News on Wednesday that the White House sees spending big on infrastructure as a way for the US to be more “globally competitive.”
The country needs to invest more to “beat China in the global economy” and “create the kinds of jobs we need,” he said. His remarks are an early sign that the Biden administration views the package as a path to strengthen the nation’s foreign competitiveness.
Klain added: “Not just building the infrastructure but then the jobs that that infrastructure powers in terms of bring products to market, and it includes things as the president said like hundreds of thousands of charging stations for the new generation electrical vehicles that are going to be on the road here in the years to come. It includes investments in power transmission for clean power and it obviously includes things like roads and bridges and all these other things.”
Republican support of the package will depend on certain factors like how it is financed. They are unlikely to support economic legislation that includes tax hikes on the wealthiest Americans and large corporations, a method the Biden administration and top Senate Democrats say they favor.
The Washington Post reported that only three House Republicans supported a similar infrastructure proposal worth $US1.5 ($2) trillion, legislation that would significantly augment spending on roads and bridges; water projects; and broadband among others.
Yet Biden could run into trouble collecting GOP votes. Not a single Republican in either chamber voted for the $US1.9 ($2) trillion COVID-19 relief package Congress passed this week.