by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Now that President Biden has signed the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 spending package into law, House and Senate Democrats are gearing up for a sweeping infrastructure package likely to come with an even higher price tag.
Democrats have been meeting with President Biden about the future package, which they hope will address the nation’s crumbling infrastructure as well as climate change concerns that are also a top party priority. Senate and House committees have started working on proposals, and Democratic aides said they anticipate legislation as early as May.
“He wants to move as quickly as possible,” House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio, an Oregon Democrat, said after meeting with Biden recently. “He wants it to be very big, and he feels that this is the key to the recovery package.”
The size and scope of the bill, while still unknown, is likely to run in the multitrillion-dollar range and will almost certainly run afoul of Republicans.
Democrats are planning to try to circumvent a likely GOP Senate filibuster by using a special budgetary tactic that would allow them to pass the bill with only 51 votes instead of the usual 60. Senate Democrats employed the same process to pass the COVID-19 aid spending bill, which did not earn a single Republican vote.
For now, Biden and key centrist Democrats are eager to try to craft a package that can win GOP votes. Republicans, like Democrats, view infrastructure as a critical need, but they differ dramatically on how to pay for and repair the nation’s crumbling roads and bridges.
The Democratic-led House last year passed a $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill that included many clean energy and zero-emissions provisions as well as language bolstering labor unions.
Only three of the 188 Republicans in the House supported it, and the GOP-led Senate ignored the measure.