Congress Begins Drafting Legislation for Biden Infrastructure Plan

Congressional committees are moving ahead with plans to hold hearings and draft legislation to implement President Joe Biden’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure proposal at the same time a group of Republican and centrist Democratic senators are trying to negotiate a smaller, bipartisan package. Republicans have objected to the inclusion of what they consider non-infrastructure provisions, such as $400 billion to cover care for the elderly and disabled people, in Biden’s American Jobs Plan. They also object to financing the program by increasing the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28% rather than fees such as the gas tax or an alternative mechanism.

Appearing together over the weekend on Fox News Sunday, Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and John Cornyn (R-TX) spoke of negotiations they were leading to develop an infrastructure bill that would be smaller in scope and which would garner Republican support. Senator Coons said Democrats could pass a bipartisan infrastructure package with 60 Senate votes, and leave the more controversial for a bill they could pass on a party-line vote using the budget reconciliation process.

With up to eight committees having jurisdiction over different parts of the Biden proposal, however, the Democratic chairs of House committees intend to draft legislation they anticipate will be passed with little Republican support. The House Transportation Committee, chaired by Peter DeFazio (D-OR), will hold a hearing this week on sustainable water infrastructure, a part of the Biden infrastructure initiative.