It’s always the same. What have you done for me lately?
With a $1.9 trillion COVID relief package finally passed, U.S. President Joe Biden’s next big spending push is already on the horizon – repairing the nation’s ailing bridges, roads and airports and investing billions in new projects like broadband internet.
Biden may sketch the outline of the plan, promised on the campaign trail, in a joint address to Congress this month and provide details in April, giving lawmakers several months to work on the bill before an August recess, people familiar with the White House plans said.
The White House has added infrastructure experts to the administration in recent weeks, and called in lawmakers and companies to discuss the topic.
Biden and his fellow Democrats hope to expand the definition of infrastructure beyond existing transportation architecture to include items aimed at tackling climate change and its effects, echoing the $2 trillion, 10-year “Build Back Better” proposal floated during his campaign.
That includes investments in electric vehicle charging stations, zero-emission buses and zero-carbon electricity generation by 2035, and directing dollars to minority neighborhoods and contractors, part of a pledge to increase racial equity.
Democrats have signaled they want to invest billions in creating and refurbishing affordable housing in any package and expand broadband internet access to all Americans, particularly in rural communities.
Republicans and influential trade groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce support large-scale infrastructure spending, but not Democratic efforts to inject climate change or equality policy into a spending bill.
Representative Peter DeFazio, who chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said in an interview his “tentative timeline” is for the committee to complete action on its portion of an infrastructure bill before the end of May.
House Democrats passed a $1.5 trillion infrastructure package last year that died in the Senate, but could be a blueprint here. It was one-third funded from existing fuel taxes and budget transfers.
Leading Democrats suggest doing away with Trump’s 2017 tax cuts or imposing new taxes on the super-wealthy – ideas that are a non-starter for most Republicans and some Democrats.
Some economists and business groups have suggested lawmakers should forget about finding new funding for the whole package and instead borrow some of the money given the historically low cost of debt and economic growth projections.