WASHINGTON — White House officials are preparing to present President Joe Biden with an approximately $3 trillion infrastructure and jobs package that includes high-profile domestic policy priorities such as free community college and the universal preschool, according to three people familiar with internal discussions.
After wrapping up the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package this month, Biden administration officials are piecing together the next big legislative priority. Although no final announcement has been made, the White House is expected to push forward a multi-trillion-dollar jobs and infrastructure plan as the centerpiece of the president’s “Build Back Better” agenda.
This effort should be split into two parts – one focused on infrastructure and the other focused on other national priorities such as increasing the newly expanded child tax credit for several years. The people, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe private conversations, stressed that the planning was preliminary and subject to change. Some assistants said the final price of the package remains uncertain.
Although still in the works, the sweeping legislative package follows weeks of uncertainty about Biden’s second major legislative effort and confusion among congressional lawmakers about the administration’s top priority.
The infrastructure and jobs bill is poised to further define Biden’s presidency. He faced intense pressure, including from some Democrats, to scale back his domestic policy ambitions and work with congressional Republicans on more progressive legislation after his 1-year pandemic relief plan. $9 trillion, which all Republicans voted against.
It would force Biden to abandon many of his most important 2020 presidential campaign promises while frustrating much of his base and the Democratic Party leadership. The introduction of a new $3 trillion package, which is expected to include tax increases to offset spending, is sure to frustrate Republicans, sparking another acrimonious legislative fight. But it gives the president a chance to shore up a domestic policy agenda beyond the emergency pandemic response.
“The country hasn’t had a real infrastructure bill since Dwight Eisenhower put the highway system in place,” said former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell, a Democratic supporter of infrastructure spending. “It could do more for American industry and blue-collar jobs than anything else. It’s crucial not only to Biden’s legacy, but also to the legacy of American government over the next decade. This is a defining moment for the country.”
Crucial decisions have not been made on how the administration seeks to move the measure forward. Congressional Republicans are unlikely to support trillions more additional spending, or the tax increases the White House is considering to fund these initiatives. It’s unclear what the appetite might be, even among congressional Democrats, to use reconciliation — the budget procedure used by Democrats to pass the pandemic bill with 51 votes in the Senate.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement that the administration has not decided what to do next. “President Biden and his team are considering a range of potential options on how to invest in working families and reform our tax code so it rewards hard work, not wealth,” Psaki said. “These conversations are ongoing, so any speculation about future economic proposals is premature and does not reflect the thinking of the White House.”
Congressional Republicans have talked about supporting infrastructure spending, but have largely rejected Democratic proposals to do so, especially those that include investments in cleaner energy sources in an effort to curb climate change. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., warned the Senate on Monday against a “so-called infrastructure proposal that could actually be a Trojan horse for massive tax hikes and other jobs-destroying left-wing policies”.
Biden’s proposal is expected to focus on infrastructure spending, with hundreds of billions of dollars to fix the nation’s roads, bridges, waterways and rails. It also includes funding for building renovations, safety improvements, school infrastructure, and low-income and tribal groups, as well as $100 billion for schools and education infrastructure.
The infrastructure component is expected to include $400 billion in spending to address climate change, including $60 billion for green transit infrastructure and $46 billion for climate-related research and development. The plan would also aim to make electric vehicle charging stations available across the country. The measure would also include $200 billion for housing infrastructure, including $100 billion to expand housing supply for low-income people.
The second component of the effort would include many of Biden’s other domestic priorities. These include universal pre-kindergarten and free community college tuition. The package would also drastically increase childcare spending and extend the recently enacted child tax credit expansion for another year as part of the stimulus package.
Biden has previously touted these initiatives as necessary parts of the “care economy.”
The new legislation would expand grants for the Affordable Care Act, as well as free and reduced tuition at historically black colleges and universities.
Biden is expected to be presented with a menu of tax options by Treasury Department officials to fund the plan. Biden has campaigned to raise the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%, as well as to raise taxes on wealthy investors. It was not immediately clear which of his tax plans would be included in the final legislation.
“Anyone making more than $400,000 will see a small to large tax increase,” Biden said last week on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
White House officials plan to include a measure to force drug companies to lower prices or pay a hefty penalty. The White House’s efforts will likely be similar to the prescription drug bill announced by House Democrats in 2019, which was intended to address voter frustration over rising prescription drug costs across the country. country, said people familiar with the internal discussions.
The Congressional Budget Office estimated that House Democrats’ bill would save the government about $450 billion over the next decade. By reducing the cost of prescription drugs, the government would spend significantly less on Medicare and other public health programs.
Many details of the plan were first reported by The New York Times.
The emerging proposal comes amid a broad debate among Democratic policymakers over the Biden administration’s next steps. The Democratic left flank is calling for the party to use its grip on power in Washington to endorse long-standing policy goals, from expanding health care to action on climate change. The centrist wing of Democrats, however, has expressed repeated unease about voting the party line on pandemic relief, and it has pushed for a return to bipartisan policymaking.
Republicans in particular should oppose Biden’s tax hikes on corporations and the wealthy. This could complicate the passage, especially by the Senate, of any major set of Biden infrastructure.
“The GOP will not vote for these tax hikes,” said Brian Riedl, a former aide to Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, who now works at the libertarian-leaning think tank Manhattan Institute. “Why should they be the tax collectors for Biden’s spending spree?”
Others point out that what Biden has offered may not be enough to meet the challenge of climate change and global warming.
“If the Biden team lands at $3 trillion, they will be neglecting what is politically and publicly popular, and what is frankly vital to the future of our society and our planet,” said Ellen Sciales, Attaché national press for the youth-led movement. Movement of sunrise.
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Seung Min Kim of The Washington Post contributed to this report.