A crack across the roadway is seen as Nevada Department of Transportation worker Jarrid Summerfelt repairs damage to U.S. Highway 95 after a strong earthquake struck near Tonopah, Nevada, May 15, 2020.
David Becker | Reuters
President Joe Biden will separate his sprawling plan to upgrade the nation’s infrastructure into two separate pieces that he will unveil weeks apart, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Sunday.
Psaki said on Fox News Sunday that Biden will unveil the first part of his plan, focusing on items like rebuilding roads and railways, on Wednesday. The second part of Biden’s plan will include child-care and health-care reforms — aspects of what is sometimes called social infrastructure — and will be released in “in just a couple of weeks,” she said.
The New York Times reported on Monday that Biden’s advisors were recommending that Biden separate traditional infrastructure proposals from the other aspects of his plan geared at relieving burdens on families via social services. Taken as a whole, the legislation is expected to cost more than $3 trillion.
Some Biden advisors believe that dividing the package and pushing for the roads-and-bridges proposal first may make it easier to gain support from Republicans, the Times reported. Documents reviewed by the newspaper indicated that it could include $1 trillion devoted largely to building and repairing physical infrastructure, with a focus on fighting climate change.
The second part of Biden’s plan would include proposals like free community college and universal prekindergarten, the Times reported. Psaki said the second plan “will address a lot of issues that American people are struggling with,” and cited child care and the cost of health care.
Psaki suggested that Biden’s proposal may come with tax increases, but declined to provide details.
“The total package we’re still working out, but he’s going to introduce some ways to pay for that, and he’s eager to hear ideas from both parties as well,” she said.
Biden has said that he intends to raise taxes on wealthy individuals and corporations, though he has not yet provided a detailed plan to do so.
Republicans are broadly opposed to tax increases. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said that there will not be “any enthusiasm on our side for a tax increase” to fund infrastructure.
Talk of Biden’s next big push on the economy comes just weeks after the president signed a $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief bill, which included funding for vaccine distribution as well as stimulus payments for most Americans.
The coronavirus legislation was passed without any Republican support via a special congressional mechanism known as budget reconciliation. The nearly-$2 trillion package was funded by federal borrowing.
The White House hasn’t said whether it will use reconciliation to pass legislation related to its infrastructure agenda, though it seems likely that separating the two parts of the plan is aimed at avoiding the streamlined process for at least one bill.
Republicans and Democrats have both been pressing for a bipartisan infrastructure deal for years.
“We’re not quite at the legislative strategy yet, Chris, but I will say that I don’t think Republicans in this country think we should be 13th in the world as it relates to infrastructure,” Psaki told host Chris Wallace.
“Roads, railways, rebuilding them, that’s not a partisan issue. That’s a lot of what the president will talk about this Wednesday,” she said.
Psaki did not say whether the plan would be limited to two pieces of legislation or if more discrete bills may be introduced.
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