Infrastructure Deal Revived After Biden Walks Back Comments

Last week President Joe Biden announced agreement with a bipartisan group of senators, led by Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Rob Portman (R-OH), on a bipartisan infrastructure plan. The infrastructure deal would total $1.2 trillion over eight years, with approximately $579 billion in physical infrastructure, including roads, bridges, transit, water and sewer projects, and upgrades to the electrical grid. However, the nascent deal almost unraveled when Biden, in an effort to appease Democratic progressives, promised not to sign the legislation unless it was simultaneously accompanied by a reconciliation bill incorporating elements of his other domestic spending priorities.

The reaction from Republicans supporting the deal, who felt blindsided by the president’s comments, was immediate and threatened passage of the plan in the Senate. The president was forced to revise and walk back his comments over the weekend, stating that “[m]y comments also created the impression that I was issuing a veto threat on the very plan I had just agreed to, which was certainly not my intent.”

Funding for the bipartisan infrastructure proposal will come from some repurposing of COVID-19 relief funds, increased use of private-public partnerships, and improving tax revenue collection efforts by the Internal Revenue Service, according to a joint statement by the senators leading the negotiations.

For its part, the House of Representatives is set to pass a version of an infrastructure bill this week, the Invest in America Act. The bill is a $715 billion surface transportation reauthorization and water infrastructure bill that mirrors much of the Biden infrastructure proposals. Its passage allows Speaker Nancy Pelosi to fulfill her promise that the House would pass an infrastructure bill prior to the July Fourth holiday, although the bill has little chance of passage in the Senate.