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With some wind in his sails from the massively popular Covid relief package, President Joe Biden’s next big legislative push – a sweeping infrastructure plan – is set to bring a far more challenging bipartisan test in the coming weeks.
The “Build Back Better” infrastructure proposal that White House aides are putting together would be segmented into two separate parts – one focused on infrastructure and clean energy, and a second focused on what’s being termed the “care economy” with a focus zeroed in on key domestic economic issues.
In full, it would mark a sweeping move toward enacting the key elements of the “jobs” agenda that Biden laid out in large part during his campaign for president, with a suite of potential tax increases on corporations and the wealthy as options to finance any longer-term spending in the final proposal.
That’s where things get tricky.
As CNN’s John Harwood writes, the plan contains some fat political targets. Republicans deride as “welfare” some of the tax credits it directs to help families climb the economic ladder.
They skewer alternative energy investments and regulations to combat climate change as costly and radical.
As Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell summarized it: “A so-called infrastructure proposal that may actually be a Trojan horse for massive tax hikes and other job-killing left-wing policies.”
But Biden is determined to find Republican support. The President plans to pursue bipartisan support, according to his advisers. He’s already held multiple bipartisan Oval Office meetings on the issue. During a meeting with labor leaders in February, Biden repeatedly stressed that he thought there was a path for bipartisanship on the issue, according to an attendee.
There’s still a backup plan. Officials are also planning for congressional Democrats to move concurrently with a budget procedure that would allow any package to pass with a simple majority in the US Senate.
The nuts and bolts. The infrastructure proposal would focus heavily on money for roads, bridges and rails, and would include hundreds of billions in spending for climate-related measures, as well as climate-related research and development. It also would include $100 billion for education infrastructure.