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Biden’s team is preparing a broader economic package after alleviating the virus

WASHINGTON (AP). Beyond the $ 1.9 trillion COWID bailout bill, President Biden ները lawmakers are laying the groundwork for another key legislative priority: the country’s long-awaited promotion of the country’s roads, bridges, and other infrastructure, which could face Republican resistance. hard price.

Biden and his team have begun discussions with members of Congress on possible infrastructure outlines, especially as Texas’ recent struggle after a severe winter storm paves the way for sustainable infrastructure spending due to water shortages and water shortages.

Biden National Climate Adviser Inna McCarthy told the Associated Press that a deadly winter storm in Texas should “wake up” to the need for “more reliable” energy infrastructure.

“The infrastructure was not designed to withstand these extreme weather conditions,” said Liz Sherwood-Randall, the president’s national security aide. “We know we can not just respond to extreme weather events. We have to plan for them, prepare for them. ”

The White House proposal may be published in March.

“Now is the time for aggression,” said Transport Secretary Pete Butgig, a former South Bend city in Indiana that knows potholes.

During a meeting with state-local highway officials on Thursday, he referred to the Trump administration’s often-promised, never-before-seen mega-initiative on roads, bridges, and more.

“I know you are among those who work աշխատում the most patient, or perhaps look forward to the moment when Infrastructure Week will no longer be a kind of Groundhog Day promise, but in fact something of a generational investment,” he said. he:

Most of America’s infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, shared drinking water systems, dams, airports, mass transit systems, etc., needs major repairs after years of underfunding, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers. In its 2017 Infrastructure Reporting Card, it gave the national infrastructure an overall D + rating.

Both houses of Congress will use their failed attempts to pass infrastructure bills during the last session as a starting point.

Democrats passed a $ 1.5 trillion package in the House last year, but it went nowhere with the Trump administration, the Republican-led Senate. The Senate committee in 2019 approved narrower bipartisan legislation that focused on authorizing federal transportation programs. It flared up when the United States turned its attention to the COVID-19 election.

Biden has spoken out in greater numbers, with some Democrats now urging him to bypass Republicans in the tightly divided Congress to address a wider range of priorities for stakeholders.

During the presidential campaign, Biden promised to spend $ 2 trillion on clean energy infrastructure, but the White House did not rule out an even higher price. According to McCarthy, Biden’s upcoming program will focus on job creation, such as boosting investment in workers “behind” closed coal mines or power plants, as well as communities near polluting recycling plants and other hazards.

“He has long been a fan of investing in infrastructure. “It’s too late – it’s too late, I have to say,” White House spokesman En Psaki said on Thursday. “But he also wants to do more in the healthcare sector, help our manufacturing sector, do more to strengthen access to affordable healthcare. So the size, the package, its components, the order, which has not been decided yet. “

Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, recently said in the White House that he was ready to use the budget, known as Reconciliation, to pass a broad package of economic recovery with only Democratic votes. That prompted strong warnings from Republicans, who have already closed their ranks, against the Democrats’ COVID-19 aid bill.

West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, the first Republican in the Senate Environment and Public Affairs Committee, said there was bipartisan support for the ambitious infrastructure move. But it “should not extend to a multimillion-dollar package full of ideologically driven, one-size-fits-all policies that bind the hands of our states and our communities,” he said.

Capito will help draft bipartisan legislation by the Senate.

Peter Defatsia, chairman of the House Transport and Infrastructure Committee, told the AP that he envisages a comprehensive package of the House of Representatives that will go beyond roads, bridges and public transport.

He also expects it to raise money for water systems, broadband and grids to address the weak infrastructure that was exposed after the catastrophic disasters in Texas.

He is not ready to talk about the total costs yet. DeFazio, D-Ore., Said the Biden administration’s House Rules Committee’s funds should figure out how to pay for it.

DeFazio said General Motors’ recently announced goal of having mostly electric power by 2035 shows the need to spend more on charging stations across the country. Biden campaigned on a plan to install 50,000 charging stations by the end of 2030.

“I’m fully prepared to work with (Republicans) if they’re ready to recognize climate change,” Defaccio said. “Or if they do not want to recognize climate change, they can simply recognize that electric semi – electric cars are on the horizon.” “We have to move forward with that.”

Gretchen Whitmer, Governor of D-Mich. He also wants the states to have more federal grants to repair infrastructure after natural disasters and extreme weather.

Speaking at the Senate hearing, Maryland Republican Gov. Larry Hogan said there was bipartisan support among governors for overcoming natural disasters, reducing bureaucracy, leveraging private investment, and leveraging cyber-attacks.

Delaware Democrat Sen. Tom Carper, the new chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Affairs Committee, said his goal is for his committee to pass the Infrastructure Bill by Remembrance Day.

In the House of Representatives, Rep. Sam Graves, the first Republican on the Transport Committee, said Republicans would be open to a larger package until it greatly increased national debt.

But many lawmakers oppose raising the federal gas tax as a way to help pay the bill, while groups like the Chamber of Commerce oppose raising corporate taxes during the epidemic.

White House aide Cedric Richmond, a former Louisiana congressman, told state transportation officials that the president intends to pay most of the costs, not increase the debt. This will be done in part through a reversal of some of the Trump administration’s tax cuts.

Ed Mortimer, vice-president of the US Chamber of Commerce, says removing last year ‘s bill to rehabilitate low-income school housing infrastructure could lower the price, as the House’s COVID aid is already worth hundreds of billions of dollars. dollars for these purposes.

“Affordable housing, school construction, very well deserved, but we are not sure that it is in the center of attention, as a result of which a bill will be signed,” Mortimer said.


Yen reported from Austin, Texas. AP rapporteur Matthew Dali contributed to this report.


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