May 12, 2021

Progressives Propose Tripling Housing Commitment in Infrastructure Plan

“Republicans are not going to partner with Democrats on the Green New Deal or on raising taxes to pay for it,” Senator John Barrasso, Republican of Wyoming, said at a news conference last month. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, has repeatedly warned that the infrastructure plan is “a Trojan horse” for liberal priorities, while Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the No. 2 House Republican, declared last week that “it’s a lot of Green New Deal” that would lead voters to turn away from Democrats.

“I think the expansive definition of infrastructure that we see in this sort of ‘Green New Deal wish list’ is called into question,” Senator Shelley Moore Capito, Republican of West Virginia, said on Fox News last week. “I don’t think that the American people, when they think of infrastructure, are thinking of home health aides and other things that are included in this bill.”

A group of Democrats has raised the possibility of breaking off the parts of Mr. Biden’s plan with broad bipartisan appeal — addressing roads, bridges and broadband — and attempting to pass it with Republican votes before Democrats turn to the more ambitious elements the G.O.P. has rejected. Then, they argue, Democrats could use the fast-track budget reconciliation process to bypass the filibuster and unilaterally push the remainder of the package through both chambers.

“I think that if we come together in a bipartisan way to pass that $800 billion hard infrastructure bill that you were talking about, that I’ve been urging, then we show our people that we can solve their problems,” Senator Chris Coons, Democrat of Delaware, said on “Fox News Sunday.”

But there is no guarantee that bipartisan support would materialize even for a more limited plan, and many liberals fear that if it did, the strategy would sap momentum for their more ambitious ideas.

While the progressives’ proposal is largely unchanged from its original iteration in 2019, the political landscape is vastly different, with Democrats in control of Washington. Mr. Sanders now leads the Senate Budget Committee, and a historic investment of federal funds to counter the economic and health effects of the coronavirus pandemic has some lawmakers and voters more open to substantial spending.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/19/us/politics/progressives-infrastructure-legislation.html

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