What could be in Biden's massive infrastructure bill, from free community college to upgraded roads and bridges

  • President Biden’s advisors are expected to present an infrastructure proposal split in two parts.
  • The first part focuses on roads and bridges, and the second on people, on areas like universal pre-K.
  • Funding for the plan isn’t yet determined, but administration officials are floating tax hikes.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Infrastructure talks are ramping up in Congress and in the White House, and instead of putting together a single colossal bill, President Joe Biden’s advisors are expected to present a proposal worth up to $3 trillion this week, consisting of two legislative pieces.

The New York Times first reported the outline of the plans on Monday. A person familiar with the discussions confirmed them to Insider.

According to documents obtained by the Times, the proposed infrastructure plan would focus first on infrastructure improvements such as upgrading roads and bridges. The second bill would direct spending on other segments of the economy, such as education and childcare.

“The point is not to put in all this effort just to get where we where pre-recession or pre-pandemic, that’s not what other countries are doing,” Ryan Fitzpatrick, director of the climate and energy program at Third Way, a center-left group, said in an interview. “This is to make sure the US has a competitive economy. We can’t rest on our laurels.”

Many of the plan’s details, including its funding, remain in flux. White House officials are weighing tax increases on large corporations and the wealthiest Americans to finance at least some portions of the package. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Monday the administration is “considering a range of potential options” for upcoming spending plans.

Here’s what could be included in the proposed $3 trillion infrastructure proposal:

Roads and bridges

According to documents obtained by the Times, the first component would set aside roughly $1 trillion to strengthen roads and bridges, among other things. This area is traditionally considered bipartisan on Capitol Hill.

Other parts of the first bill could include:

  • Spending on clean energy deployment and the development of 5G communications;
  • Funding for rural broadband;
  • One million affordable and energy-efficient housing units;
  • $1 trillion in spending on roads, bridges, electric vehicles, rail lines, and improvements to the electric grid and other parts of the power sector.

Fitzpatrick argued these investments would be critical to shore up the nation’s economic footing after the pandemic subsides.

“An infrastructure package goes beyond a very common understanding of roads and bridges,” Fitzpatrick told Insider. We’re talking about manufacturing infrastructure, we’re talking about clean energy infrastructure that will help bring down costs and also create domestic markets that make us competitive around the world.

Care economy

The other portion of the Biden administration’s legislative push would aim to encourage laid-off workers to jump back into the labor force if they stopped seeking jobs over the past years. Related provisions may include:

  • Free community college;
  • Universal pre-K;
  • A national paid leave initiative;
  • Increased spending on programs to increase participation of women in the labor force;
  • Extending or making permanent two temporary provisions of Biden’s stimulus bill: expanded subsidies for low- and middle-income Americans to buy health insurance, and tax credits aimed at cutting poverty.

While bipartisan infrastructure talks are under way in the House, Republicans are already opposed to a package that contains tax increases.

Sen. John Thune, the Senate’s second-ranked Republican, told reporters on Tuesday that splitting up an infrastructure bill was a “pretty cynical ploy” by Democrats to try and attract GOP support for some measures but not others.

Pushing some of the package through budget reconciliation may also prove a tough sell for some centrist Democratic lawmakers. It’s the tactic recently used to approve the Biden stimulus law without any GOP votes, avoiding a 60-vote threshold known as the filibuster in the process.

“I’m not going to do it through reconciliation,” Moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia told Axios. “I am not going to get on a bill that cuts them [Republicans] out completely before we start trying.”

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