Where Washington stands on an infrastructure bill

By |  June 16, 2021
Photo: P&Q Staff

Doubt is starting to surface over whether legislators will come to terms this summer on an impactful, bipartisan infrastructure bill. Photo: P&Q Staff

Weeks of momentum on a bipartisan infrastructure bill came to a halt June 8 when President Biden called Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-West Virginia), the ranking member of the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee (EPW), informing her he was ending negotiations with a group of Senate Republicans.

The president has since turned his attention to a separate group of senators made up of Democrats and Republicans that’s reportedly calling for a five-year, $974 billion deal. The Wall Street Journal reports that progressive Democrats in the House and Senate criticized that bill, as they seek a more expansive package that also addresses child care, climate and education.

Some positive news on infrastructure surfaced late last month when the Senate EPW released a bipartisan surface transportation reauthorization bill that would set a new baseline funding level at a historic high of $303.5 billion for Department of Transportation programs for highways, roads and bridges. According to the Senate EPW, the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act of 2021 calls for a funding increase of more than 34 percent over the 2015 FAST Act.

Still, the stall on a bigger bipartisan infrastructure bill is undoubtedly a setback for the aggregate industry following the president’s March rollout of an eight-year, $2.25 trillion proposal. A group of Senate Republicans countered the president’s proposal in April with a $568 billion plan for roads, transit and broadband, and the president lowered his price tag in May to $1.7 trillion. Senate Republicans brought their dollar figure up to $928 billion, but that was as close as the two sides got.

“He (Biden) informed Sen. Capito today that the latest offer from her group did not, in his view, meet the essential needs of our country to restore our roads and bridges, prepare us for our clean energy future and create jobs,” says Jen Psaki, White House press secretary, in a June 8 statement. “He offered his gratitude to her for her efforts and good faith conversations, but expressed his disappointment that, while he was willing to reduce his plan by more than $1 trillion, the Republican group had increased their proposed new investments by only $150 billion.”

Capito expressed disappointment in the president’s decision in a statement of her own.

“In our discussions with the president, he himself made it clear that he was willing to accept an offer around $1 trillion, that baseline spending would and could be included, and that a plan could stretch over an eight-year period of time,” she says. “The president also understood one of our red lines, which was not undoing the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act of 2017, which has helped so many Americans.”

“Despite the progress we made in our negotiations, the president continued to respond with offers that included tax increases as his pay for, instead of several practical options that would have not been harmful to individuals, families and small businesses,” Capito adds.

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About the Author:

Kevin Yanik is editor-in-chief of Pit & Quarry. He can be reached at 216-706-3724 or kyanik@northcoastmedia.net.

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