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April 19, 2021 12:15 PM, EDT

Buttigieg, GOP Alternative Plan Headline Infrastructure Week on Capitol Hill

Transportation Secretary Pete ButtigiegTransportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg will appear before the Senate Appropriations Committee on April 20 to discuss President Joe Biden's $2.25 trillion infrastructure plan. (Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg News)

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President Joe Biden’s Cabinet-level “jobs” team is scheduled to explain details of a $2.25 trillion comprehensive infrastructure plan before a Senate panel as Republicans prepare a scaled-down response ahead of the plan’s consideration.

Congressional leaders have assured us they will devote plenty of time on infrastructure matters, infrastructure weeks of sorts, with secretaries Pete Buttigieg, in the U.S. Department of Transportation, and Gina Raimondo at the Commerce Department, among officials set to take the debate to the next-level at the Senate Appropriations Committee on April 20.

Despite expressing support for Biden’s infrastructure plan, a few Democrats have expressed an openness to negotiate on its funding structure (ie, raising the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%). Key Republicans, however, say they will pitch an alternative plan that would unlikely reach the trillion-dollar price tag.

Eugene Mulero

Mulero

The White House has been on a seemingly all-hands-on-deck promotion of the plan, with the so-called jobs team headlining the Sunday shows, among other outlets. The Biden camp has emphasized a strategy for addressing climate change, as well as the potential for creating millions of jobs, with enactment of the plan. They also expressed a willingness for bipartisanship.

“What we’re waiting for is a counterproposal from Republicans in Congress. And they’ve indicated that they’re working through that. So we look forward to seriously considering any, any proposal that, any good-faith engagement, I should say, that comes our way. But we’re waiting. We’re on the receiving end for that. So we’re looking forward to it,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said April 16.

She continued, “[Biden] is very open to hearing different ideas, hearing different ways to get these, these big ideas he’s put forward; this historic investment to modernize our infrastructure, create millions of jobs forward. The mechanisms for that, the construction of it, the pieces that it could flow through, he’s very open to what that looks like.”

House Resolution NEPA by Transport Topics on Scribd

An open-mind on the part of the president is what Republican transportation policymakers in the House have called for since the start of the administration. Ahead of the House transportation panel’s consideration of a multiyear highway bill, Republicans introduced the BUILDER Act, legislation that would update provisions within the National Environmental Policy Act.

Rep. Sam Graves

Rep. Sam Graves, ranking memeber on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News)

“The president’s call for bipartisan action on infrastructure should start with reforming the overly lengthy and costly project review process. By approving needed infrastructure projects more efficiently, we can make our limited resources go much further while maintaining strong environmental protections,” committee ranking member Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) said.

“If President Biden and the Democrats are serious about unleashing infrastructure, bipartisan support for the BUILDER Act is a good place to start,” added Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), ranking member on the Energy and Commerce Committee.

The Week Ahead (all times Eastern)

April 20, 10:30 a.m.: The Senate Appropriations Committee presses Secretary Pete Buttigieg on the White House’s $2.25 trillion infrastructure plan.

April 21, 11 a.m.: The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee meets for a hearing on wastewater infrastructure. Watch live here

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Legislative Docket

Shelley Moore Capito

Capito

Republican senators intend to produce an alternative infrastructure proposal to Biden’s $2.25 infrastructure plan that likely would be anywhere in the $600 billion and $800 billion range. While the White House is looking at the corporate tax rate to fund its plan, Republicans say they intend to pursue a different approach.

Details by the GOP have yet to be revealed. “I think it’s important to define what infrastructure is because I think what we saw from the president’s $2.2[5] trillion package, his definition of infrastructure is a lot different than what mine is, although there are a lot of similarities,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), ranking member of the Environment and Public Works Committee.

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Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) on April 12.

John Barrasso

We publish weekly when Congress is in session. E-mail emulero@ttnews.com with tips. Follow us @eugenemulero and @transporttopics.

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