Capitol Hill Reacts to Biden’s Infrastructure Plan
What happened: The American Jobs Plan, outlined by ARTBA staff, was released March 31 by the White House and unsurprisingly drew mixed reactions from congressional leaders. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called the plan “a visionary, once-in-a-century investment in the American people” and vowed to get a bill through the House of Representatives by July 4. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) cast doubt on Republican support, stating “my view of infrastructure is we ought to build that which we can afford, and not either whack the economy with major tax increases or run up the national debt even more.”
Senator Joe Manchin (D-Va.), who will play a critical role in any infrastructure package discussions, had a different take. “Infrastructure, my God, when you think about it, that pothole doesn’t have an R or D name on it, it’ll blow your tire and ruin your car, it doesn’t care,” Manchin said. “So, don’t you think infrastructure is something that could bring us together?”
Why it matters: Simply maintaining federal surface transportation program funding at current levels would require finding $70 billion for the Highway Trust Fund. Top White House and administration officials told senior ARTBA staff this week their proposal reflected a set of “principles.” The House and Senate will still be responsible for drafting and passing a bill. If the measure does not receive any Republican support, congressional Democrats are expected to use reconciliation, a complicated process that requires only a simple majority vote in the Senate for passage.
What’s next: The Biden administration’s Fiscal Year 2022 budget is expected later this month. However, House and Senate committees continue to prepare surface transportation legislation on their own. ARTBA will continue advocating for both a robust highway and public transit law by the Sept. 30 deadline, and a supplemental infrastructure package with strong core transportation investment.