House Democrats on Thursday unveiled a $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill, arguing that the need to rebuild crumbling roads and bridges, expand broadband access in rural areas and invest in clean energy has been made more urgent by the coronavirus pandemic and its economic fallout.
“It's job-creating in its essence, but it's also commerce-promoting. So it grows the economy of our country,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, according to The Hill.
The bill, called the Moving Forward Act, reportedly would provide nearly $500 billion in highway and transportation funds over 10 years as well as $100 billion for low-income schools, $100 billion for affordable housing, $100 billion for broadband, $70 billion for the electric grid, $65 billion for water projects, $30 billion for hospitals and $25 billion for the Postal Service.
Pelosi said she would push to pass the bill before Congress leaves town for its July 4 recess, and she noted that President Trump has spoken of the need for new infrastructure investment. “The president, we understand, really wants an infrastructure bill,” she said. “He talks about it quite a bit, so now let’s get down to what that means.” Pelosi reportedly added that low interest rates mean that “there's never been a better time for us to go big.”
The White House has reportedly discussed a $1 trillion infrastructure stimulus package, but congressional Republicans have expressed concern about federal spending and the additional cost of any new stimulus package.
Democrats urged Trump to enter into negotiations on how to pay for an infrastructure bill. House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal reportedly said that Democrats have proposed a combination of government-subsidized bonds, Private Activity Bonds and "some borrowing" to cover the cost of the legislation. “It’s time to have the conversation, it’s time to negotiate,” Neal said, according to Bloomberg News. “We think on the revenue side we are open to some solutions and negotiations.”
Republicans have also objected to the green measures included in Democrats’ previously released highway bill, which would represent the largest part of the infrastructure package. “Republicans have been a bit critical at points during the mark up and saying this is Green New Deal 2.0. This is the application of the principles of the Green New Deal. And this proves that we can both deal with climate change, fossil fuel pollution and actually create millions of new high-paying American jobs. That is the promise of this legislation,” Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR.) said, according to The Hill.