A group of Republican U.S. senators have unveiled a $568 billion plan that would look to rebuild and expand infrastructure nationwide and counter a more expensive proposal by President Joe Biden.
The GOP plan includes $299 billion for roads and bridges, $61 billion for public transit systems and $65 billion for broadband infrastructure. Also included in the plan is $20 billion for rail, $35 billion for drinking water and wastewater, $13 billion for safety, $17 billion in ports and inland waterways, $44 billion for airports and $14 billion for water storage.
Emphasized in the bill is the expediting of projects through regulatory processes and several measures to minimize new spending. The plan calls for repurposing federal COVID-19 relief funds that have remained unused, along with ensuring the federal debt is not increased.
Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough said Monday evening that Democrats can use budget reconciliation for a second time in fiscal year 2021, according to a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.
Democrats’ ability to use the legislative tool means that they could hypothetically pass President Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill with a simple majority vote instead of the 60 votes required to override a filibuster. If reconciliation proceeds, then Democrats would have enough votes to pass Biden’s infrastructure and tax packages with Vice President Kamala Harris’s tie-breaking vote if every Senator in the party votes in favor.
Four Great Lakes governors on Tuesday urged President Joe Biden to prioritize federal investments in water infrastructure.
In a letter sent to Biden, the governors lauded the American Rescue Plan Act’s $360 billion in direct aid to state and local governments that can be spent on water and sewer infrastructure.
“As your administration continues to develop and pursue its policy agenda, we respectfully encourage you to continue your emphasis on modernizing America’s water infrastructure,” readsthe letter.
President Joe Biden will meet with labor leaders at the White House Wednesday to discuss infrastructure investment and clean energy jobs, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Sean McGarvey, president of North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU), Richard Trumka, president of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), and other union heads are expected to meet with President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, according to The Wall Street Journal. The White House said the meeting will focus on infrastructure and Biden’s coronavirus relief bill currently making its way through Congress.
President Trump recently finalized an overhaul of one of the most important environmental laws in America. Credited by some as the “Magna Carta” of environmental legislation, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is one of America’s main legislative weapons in fighting climate change. It mandates an extensive review process, including the drafting of a lengthy Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and subsequent legal challenges, before the commencement of infrastructure projects. But Trump’s revision of the law through regulatory reinterpretation dramatically weakens the bill’s potency, greatly simplifying the procedure for getting federal approval on many infrastructure projects.
Almost everyone, Republicans and Democrats alike, agrees that the United States needs a massive infusion of infrastructure development—especially now to boost the debilitating coronavirus effect on the economy.
“I am not worried about the deficit,” Ronald Reagan famously said. “It is big enough to take care of itself.”
If you pay attention to the libertarian purists, President Reagan earns mixed reviews on his economic policies. After all, in 1983, the federal budget deficit exceeded 6 percent of GDP. But Reagan was untroubled by federal budget deficits for at least two reasons, and in both cases he has been vindicated by history.