Biggest Infrastructure Package Week Ev-Ah
The long expected “Infrastructure package” is almost ready for rollout, according to reports coming from the White House, and President Biden’s next big legislative push may have a price tag upwards of $3 trillion.
White House officials are preparing to present President Biden with a roughly $3 trillion infrastructure and jobs package that includes high-profile domestic policy priorities such as free community college and universal prekindergarten, according to three people familiar with internal discussions.
After completing the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package this month, Biden administration officials are piecing together the next major legislative priority. Although no final announcement has been made, the White House is expected to push a multitrillion-dollar jobs and infrastructure plan as the centerpiece of the president’s “Build Back Better” agenda.
That effort is expected to be broken into two parts — one focused on infrastructure, and the other focused on other domestic priorities such as growing the newly expanded child tax credit for several years. The people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations, stressed that planning was preliminary and subject to change. Some aides said that the package’s final price tag remains unclear.
Although still in the works, the sprawling legislative package follows weeks of uncertainty about Biden’s second big legislative effort and confusion among congressional lawmakers about the administration’s top priority.
If pursued, the infrastructure and jobs bill could help define Biden’s presidency. The president has faced intense pressure, including from some Democrats, to scale back his domestic policy ambitions and work with congressional Republicans on more incremental legislation following his $1.9 trillion covid relief plan, which every Republican voted against.
Doing so, however, would require Biden to jettison many of his most consequential 2020 presidential campaign promises, while also frustrating much of his base and Democratic Party leadership. Introducing a new $3 trillion package, which is expected to include tax increases to offset spending, is sure to frustrate Republicans, setting up another acrimonious legislative fight. But it gives the president a chance to cement a domestic policy agenda beyond the emergency response to the pandemic.
“The country has not had a real infrastructure bill since Dwight Eisenhower set up the highway system. This could do more for American manufacturing and blue-collar jobs than anything else,” said former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell (D), a proponent of infrastructure spending. “It’s crucial not just for Biden’s legacy but for the legacy of the American government in the next decade. It’s a seminal moment for the country.”
Crucial decisions still have to be made about how the administration seeks to advance the measure. Congressional Republicans are unlikely to support trillions more in additional spending, or the tax increases that the White House is eyeing to fund these initiatives. Also, it’s unclear what the appetite could be, even among congressional Democrats, to use reconciliation — the budgetary procedure Democrats used to pass covid relief with just 51 votes in the Senate.