House Approves $15t Plan To Fix Crumbling Infrastructure
WASHINGTON The Democratic-controlled House approved a $1.5 trillion plan Wednesday to rebuild the nations crumbling infrastructure, pouring hundreds of billions of dollars into projects to fix roads and bridges, upgrade transit systems, expand interstate railways and dredge harbors, ports and channels.
The bill also authorizes more than $100 billion to expand internet access for rural and low-income communities and $25 billion to modernize the U.S. Postal Services infrastructure and operations, including a fleet of electric vehicles.
Lawmakers approved the Moving Forward Act by a 233-188 vote, mostly along party lines. It now goes to the Republican-controlled Senate, where a much narrower bill approved by a key committee has languished for nearly a year. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has not attempted to schedule a floor debate and none appears forthcoming.
The idea of Infrastructure Week in the Trump era has become a long-running inside joke in Washington because there was little action to show for it. Still, Wednesday’s vote represented at least a faint signal of momentum for the kind of program that has traditionally held bipartisan appeal.
Democrats hailed the House bill, which goes far beyond transportation to fund schools, health care facilities, public utilities and affordable housing.
Republicans ridiculed the bill for what they called a Green New Deal-style focus on climate.
Progressives Ready To Vote For Both Bills Jayapal Says
Representative Pramila Jayapal of Washington, the chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said that her members wanted to see the text of the Build Back Better plan before voting on the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill.
We enthusiastically endorse the framework that the president laid out today for the Build Back Better Act, and look, this was hard, too, because there are things that arent in there that people people, you know, their hearts are breaking, our hearts are breaking, all the women here, all the families. Paid leave is not in the framework that the president laid out. And its breaking our hearts and we hope maybe something changes. We are also absolutely committed to staying through the weekend, staying here until we get the full text of the Build Back Better Act written. We understand that its 90 percent written, that 10 percent should just hopefully be very quick to put together based on the framework that the president gave us. And we intend to vote for both bills when the Build Back Better Act is ready.
President Bidens urgent appeal for a fast House vote on the $1 trillion infrastructure bill on Thursday was quickly rejected by the Houses liberal wing, which continued to demand more tangible progress on its priority the larger social policy and climate change bill.
But, she added, we have to finish it.
There Are Strict Rules On What Can Be Included
While reconciliation allows senators to scale procedural and scheduling hurdles, it is also subject to strict limits that have constrained the social policy package.
In the Senate, the Byrd Rule, established by former Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia, bars extraneous provisions disqualifying any measure that does not directly change revenue or spending, that affects Social Security or that increases the deficit after the period of time covered in the budget resolution. It is intended to ensure that the reconciliation process cannot be abused to jam through unrelated policies.
The rules name lends itself to a number of bird-related puns commonly used to describe the stages of the process. There is the Byrd bath, when the Senate parliamentarian scrubs and analyzes a bill for any provision that violates the rule. Anything that does not survive the scrutiny is known as a Byrd dropping and is removed from the legislation.
The parliamentarian has already disappointed many Democrats by rejecting proposals to include a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants in the social policy bill.
Vice President Kamala Harris, as president of the Senate, could overrule the parliamentarian, but that has not been done since 1975.
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Trump Tries New Approach For $1 Trillion Infrastructure Plan
President Donald Trump has been promising a $1 trillion infrastructure plan since his 2016 campaign
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — As a presidential candidate in 2016, Donald Trump promised a $1 trillion infrastructure plan that would use tax incentives to spur private investment in public works projects.
He has so far failed to persuade Congress to pass anything like that.
In another election year, Trump has outlined a new $1 trillion plan for spending on roads, rails, water systems and other infrastructure. This time, the president is proposing to rely fully on federal spending. That fundamental change from his first plan drew praise from some state transportation officials and industry groups, even though Trump doesn’t spell out how to pay for it all.
Since outlining his budget proposal last week, Trump has done little to promote his new infrastructure plan. A politically divided Congress has no obligation to consider it. In fact, Trump’s prior infrastructure proposals all stalled, even when Republicans controlled both the House and Senate.
Some Republicans already are lowering expectations.
The Republican House version of the bill won’t be a trillion dollars, I can tell you that right now, said U.S. Rep. Sam Graves, the ranking GOP member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. It will be a lot farther south than that.
No Real Boost To Economic Activity
Well-designed infrastructure bills are often referred to as jobs bills. This is for a simple reason: Direct federal expenditures on the repair and expansion of infrastructure facilities increase direct employment in industries such as heavy construction and related professional services, as well as indirect employment when those workers spend their earningsfor example, on meals out and new cars. When state and local governments know they will receive a steady stream of federal grant dollars, they make long-range plans that provide a strong signal to private employers that they should engage in more hiring and job training.16
This process is often referred to as the economic multiplier, whereby $1 from the federal government for infrastructure could reasonably lead to $1.40 in additional economic output.17 The overall cycle is a virtuous one that delivers public goods that serve as the foundation for future economic growth while individuals workers and families earn higher wages and build wealth for the future.
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Democrats Hunting For Funding Race To Rewrite The Tax Code
As they hunt for revenue to pay for their sprawling spending bill and try to unite a fractured caucus, Democrats are attempting to rewrite the United States tax code in a matter of days, proposing the kind of sweeping changes to how America taxes businesses and individuals that would normally take months or years to enact.
The effort has effectively discarded trillions of dollars of carefully crafted tax increases that President Biden proposed on the campaign trail and that top Democrats have rolled out in Congress. Instead, lawmakers are throwing a slew of new proposals into the mix, including a tax on billionaires, hoping that they can pass muster both legally and within their own party.
On Thursday, the White House rolled out its own set of tax proposals, including a surtax on the wealthiest Americans and a new tax on publicly-traded companies that buy back their own shares.
The frantic attempt to overhaul the complex U.S. tax code remains in a state of flux given the disparate tax proposals being considered and rejected.
Mr. Manchins opposition to a new federal paid leave program also appeared to doom its chances of being included in the final legislation, although supporters of the provision said they would fight to keep it intact.
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The meeting ventured into other topics besides infrastructure, according to a Democratic aide. The president brought up trade and immigration, calling the U.S. border with Mexico “a disaster” and asking Democrats to work with him to address the situation there. Pelosi said Democrats wanted to work on comprehensive immigration policy change.
The aide said the president criticized the previous approach his administration took toward infrastructure funding public-private partnerships. He faulted his former economic adviser. “That was a Gary bill,” Trump said, calling it “so stupid” because, he said, “you get sued.”
Trump said, “I’ll lead on this.”
There was some confusion when talking about infrastructure. According to the aide, Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., asked Trump to remember the Great Lakes when addressing the needs of ports. Trump asked, “What’s happening with the fish?” prompting some confusion. The president was apparently referring to invasive Asian carp.
NPR congressional correspondent Susan Davis contributed to this report.
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Plan May Spark Intense Dialogue
President Trumps infrastructure plan also calls for statutory changes promoting transportation-related improvements, including wider flexibility for states to toll interstate highways or commercialize interstate rest areas, plus incentives to use state infrastructure banks.
The plan also addresses water infrastructure, calling for incentives to spur the development of infrastructure asset-management standards, procurement and life-cycle risk management, as well as new investment in the Inland Waterways system.
Reform of Veterans Affairs facilities is also on the agenda, expanding the VAs authority to lease its vacant assets for commercial or mixed use and to speed its ability to handle facility renovations and improvements. Expanding eligibility for Superfund and Brownfield revitalization projects is also proposed.
Lastly, the plan addresses workforce development by expanding the use of Pell Grants, reforming licensing requirements, reforming career and technical education programs and making changes to the Federal Work Study program.
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The tone of Tuesday’s meeting was in marked contrast to the last time Democratic leaders met with the president, prior to a 35-day government shutdown over funding for a border wall. That tense back-and-forth was broadcast live.
Democratic leaders and the president are now in a heated battle over subpoenas as lawmakers investigate Trump’s business dealings, and some in the party are talking about possible impeachment. Yet a Democratic source familiar with discussion called the meeting “uncharacteristically muted.”
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The Us Infrastructure Program At A Glance
Incentive Program US$100 billion is dedicated to encouraging increased state, local and private investments by awarding incentives to project sponsors who demonstrate innovative funding strategies. The Administration hopes this will assure long-term performance while modernizing infrastructure project technology, delivery, efficiency and accountability.
Rural Infrastructure Program US$50 billion is earmarked for rural infrastructure needs and challenges, primarily offering states a block grant formula to spend as they see fit. States can petition for additional funds based on performance criteria.
Transformative Projects Program US$20 billion would be dedicated to funding ambitious, exploratory or groundbreaking projects proposed among key areas such as transportation, drinking water, energy, commercial space and broadband sectors.
Financing Programs US$20 billion would go toward expanding existing financing programs such as TIFIA, RRIF, WIFIA and USDA Rural Utilities Service. The goal is to increase the capacity of federal credit programs to fund investments and to broaden eligibility for and use of Private Activity Bonds. The Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act program, for example, would be expanded to allow airports, ports and non-federal waterway projects to be eligible.
Whats The Current Status Of The Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill
The Senate passed the bipartisan infrastructure bill in August 2021. Now, it’s known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. However, for the bill to be enacted, it would have to get passed by the House and then ratified by President Biden.
House Democrats aren’t on the same page when it comes to the infrastructure bill. The progressive Democrats have linked the passage of the bill to the Build Back Better plan. Meanwhile, the Democratic party has been divided on the Build Back Better plan.
RT if you agree: its time to pass both the Build Back Better Act and the infrastructure bill so we can get people back to work without leaving anyone behind.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal
While progressives want Congress to move forward with the plan, moderates want to scale back its size by more than half. There has been a deadlock in the Democratic party, which is holding back the Build Back Better plan and the bipartisan infrastructure bill.
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Whats The Process Of Passing The Infrastructure Bill
Once the House passes the infrastructure bill, it would be reconciled with the version that the Senate passed. After that, it would go to President Bidens desk for his signature. For now, the wedge between progressives and moderates in the Democratic party seems to be holding back the much-needed bill.
Representative Josh Gottheimer blasted the progressives whom he described as a small faction on the far left and accused them of destroying Bidens agenda and blocking job creation in the country. Pramila Jayapal, who chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said that the demands aren’t crazy leftwing wishlist but are promises made to voters that need to be fulfilled.
If you look at the worlds advanced economies, they invest an average of $14,000 per year for a toddlers child care.America spends about $500 28 times less than our competitors. It holds families and our economy back.My Build Back Better Agenda will change that.
What Else Will The Plan Do
The Trump administration says it wants to shorten the time and expense of getting federal permits by consolidatingthe reviews conducted by different agencies into “one federal decision,”with one agency taking the lead on evaluating a project.
The plan proposes to cut federal permitting to two years, down from five to ten. Former President Obama also tried to address the problemthrough an executive order that instructed agencies to use better technology and work concurrently on their reviews in order to cut down on approval times.
The proposal echoes one made in 2015 by a nonprofit group called Common Good, which recommended limitinglitigation around infrastructure permitting one of the main reasons approvals get delayed and putting one person in charge of environmental review. Other experts, including the Congressional Research Service, have since cast doubt on the report’s claim that trillions of dollars are wasted during the permitting process, pointing out that state regulations, rather than federal ones,are often the cause of delays.
Democrats and progressive groups slammed the permitting provisions in the wake of the plan’s release, saying they would erode environmental protections.
The plan also calls for changes aimed at widening the pipeline of skilled construction workers, such as allowing Pell Grants to be used forshort-term credentials from places like community colleges and targeting federal work-study funding toward on-the-job training.
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