House Returns to a Muddled Infrastructure Picture
Last week President Joe Biden broke off talks with Senate Republicans, led by Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), on a bipartisan infrastructure package. While both sides took pains to say the talks were held in good faith, the parties could not bridge the differences regarding the overall size of the package, the scope of what should be included as infrastructure, and the methods for funding the initiative.
With the failure of the Biden-Capito talks, the focus moves to a secondary Senate group, led by Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), that has also been working on a bipartisan proposal. Reportedly, the bill would be for five years and include $579 billion in new spending, which would match Biden’s $1.2 trillion proposal that is spread out over a longer period of eight years.
The authorization for federal government spending on highway and roads expires on Sept. 30 unless Congress renews the program with changes or extends the current programs. The House and Senate transportation committees are moving pieces of Biden’s infrastructure initiative in an effort to have legislative language that would be ready for inclusion in a larger bill, but also to ensure that they have legislation to meet the September deadline. Last Thursday, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, led by Peter DeFazio (D-OR), passed a five-year surface transportation bill (H.R. 3684) on a largely partisan vote. The Senate is expected to mark up a bill this week.