The White House is preparing for its next big swing on the economy.
Shortly after passing his $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief package, President Joe Biden is preparing to unveil his “Build Back Better” plan Wednesday during a public address in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The White House discussed an approximately $3 trillion infrastructure package on a call last week with Senate Democrats, but the price tag and final details are still under discussion, a person familiar with the plan told Vox.
Those close to the Biden White House underscore this is a key part of the president’s agenda, and his goal of steering America’s economy toward clean energy and manufacturing. Biden and Democrats see an infrastructure package as the best way to tackle climate change and get the country to net-zero electricity emissions by 2035, by installing more electric vehicle charging stations on the nation’s roads, modernizing the electrical grid, and incentivizing more wind and solar projects. It could be financed at least in part with higher taxes on corporations and the wealthiest Americans.
...In addition to using infrastructure to tackle climate change, administration officials are planning to introduce a second package that deals with the care economy, including child care and paid family leave, universal pre-kindergarten, and free community college tuition, the New York Times first reported and White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed this weekend.
The Covid-19 pandemic showed an acute need to create more of a child care safety net in the US, but the fact that the administration appears to be breaking the two packages apart could be a signal they think the infrastructure and clean energy proposals have a greater chance of passing through a closely divided Congress and getting support from moderate Democrats, including Senate swing vote Joe Manchin (WV).
No matter what, the process of coming up with a final infrastructure package will be long and fraught. Democrats are planning to kick off a bipartisan process, but could rely on budget reconciliation to pass major portions of an infrastructure package that Republicans don’t support.
...Beyond the main infrastructure bills in Congress, there are plenty of other bills that could be incorporated into a larger budget package. The House Energy and Commerce Committee has the CLEAN Future Act, which would put forward a clean electricity standard and lay out a pathway to decarbonize the US electricity sector by 2035. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) have a bill to create a dedicated Passenger Rail Trust Fund that would serve as a primary funding stream for Amtrak, rather than the appropriations money the rail system now receives.
On the community infrastructure side, House Committee on Education and Labor Chair Bobby Scott (D-VA) has a school infrastructure bill to repair toxic and ancient school buildings, particularly in poorer and underserved communities. And Assistant Speaker of the House Katherine Clark (D-MA) has a “Child Care Is Infrastructure” bill that would authorize $10 billion over five years to invest in child care infrastructure in the US.
“The Biden administration understands this and has made a care agenda one of their top priorities,” Clark told Vox in a recent interview.
Original story here.