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Video: Biden says he’s willing to compromise on infrastructure plan

TimesVideoBiden Says He’s Ready to Compromise on Infrastructure Plan President Biden met with a bipartisan group of lawmakers on Monday to seek support for his $ 2 trillion infrastructure and jobs plan dollars.

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Video: White House announces nearly $ 2 billion plan to track variants

new video loaded: White House announces nearly $ 2 billion plan to track variants

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White House announces nearly $ 2 billion plan to track variants

Andy Slavitt, a White House pandemic adviser, on Friday announced a $ 1.7 billion plan to strengthen the country’s capacity to monitor coronavirus variants through genomic sequencing.

Even as we step up our efforts to get gunshots, more dangerous variants are multiplying, leading to an increase in cases of people without immunity. This increases the urgency for you to get vaccinated, but it also forces us to step up our efforts to test and quickly find the genetic sequence of the virus as it spreads. Today, we are announcing a $ 1.7 billion investment to strengthen the capacity of CDC and state and local public health departments to monitor, track and defeat emerging threats, whether they are variants of Covid-19 today or other viruses in the future, through a process. known as genomic sequencing. This significant investment, made possible by the US bailout package signed by President Biden last month, is essential in our fight against potentially dangerous new variants of Covid-19. Right now, these variants account for nearly half of all Covid-19 cases in the United States, and we need more capacity in our public health system to identify and track these mutations. State and local public health departments are on the front lines in tackling the pandemic, but they need more capacity to detect these variants early before dangerous outbreaks. This funding will allow CDC and states to do more genomic sequencing as we activate the country’s large research capabilities to detect variants earlier and increase our visibility on emerging threats. This investment will give public health officials the ability to respond faster to prevent and stop the spread.

Recent episodes of Coronavirus pandemic: latest updates

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In bipartisan meeting, Biden advocates for his infrastructure plan

WASHINGTON – Faced with opposition from Republicans and some centrist Democrats to parts of his $ 2 trillion infrastructure proposal, President Biden summoned a bipartisan group of lawmakers to the White House on Monday, hoping to move towards an agreement that could push through a bitterly divided Congress.

Sitting in the Oval Office with the group, Mr Biden said he was “ready to negotiate the scope of the infrastructure project, as well as how we pay for it.”

The meeting was an effort by the White House to show it was willing to at least consider proposals to cut or reshape the package and listen to alternatives to its own plan to pay it off by raising corporate taxes.

The president has repeated on several occasions that he prefers to reach a bipartisan agreement. But White House officials and other Democrats have also made it clear that they would be willing, if necessary to achieve their priorities, to push through a bill on the party’s online voting over Republicans’ objections.

The group of lawmakers that visited the White House included four Democrats: Senators Maria Cantwell from Washington and Alex Padilla from California, and Representatives Donald M. Payne Jr. from New Jersey and David E. Price from North Carolina. Also in attendance were four Republicans: Senators Deb Fischer of Nebraska and Roger Wicker of Mississippi, and Representatives Garret Graves of Louisiana and Don Young of Alaska.

Despite Republican opposition to a broad bill, Mr Biden has repeatedly stressed the need to look beyond just repairing roads and bridges and adopting a package that can improve the productivity of a 21st century economy, according to those present.

Discussing access to water and broadband as necessary infrastructure improvements to keep the United States competitive, he said, “I have no doubts that all will be well for us,” prompting questions. laughter in the room.

The president made a strong case, said Mr. Padilla, adding: “It’s really about our competitiveness as a nation going forward.”

Republicans in the room expressed concern over Mr Biden’s broader definition of infrastructure – which includes funds for highways and bridges, but also measures such as research and development and training for workers – and questioned the president’s plans to pay for his proposals, Padilla said. But they did not rule out future negotiations.

Mr Padilla said Republicans appeared willing to include broadband funding in the package.

“I haven’t heard any strong no,” he said.

Mr Price, the top Democrat on the House appropriations subcommittee that oversees annual funding for transportation and housing, described the nearly two-hour meeting as “a good and honest exchange of initial views.”

Mr Price spoke of the importance of improving housing and transportation and said the group had discussed how to finance these investments. Paying for infrastructure, he noted, has been “the bug in this discussion for 10 years or more.”

The purpose of the meeting was not to discuss the details of the plan, Mr Price said, but rather to allow Mr Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and other senior White House officials to listen to commentary from Capitol Hill.

“He left no doubt that this was an extremely high priority for him, and he was open to discussion and alternative ideas,” Mr. Price said. “But at the end of the day, he thinks we just have to do it.”

Mr Wicker told reporters on Capitol Hill that “it would be an almost impossible sell-off for the president to come to a bipartisan deal that provided for the cancellation” of elements of the 2017 tax review, which authorized tax cuts. ‘permanent taxes for businesses while providing for temporary reductions. for individuals. Mr Biden’s infrastructure plan would raise the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%, while seeking to increase income from international operations of large companies.

But Mr Wicker said the president was engaged in the discussion, along with key members of his staff.

“I don’t know if we will be able to come to a bipartisan agreement that will become as broad and as massive as he would like,” he added.

But even as a group of them agreed to go to the White House, some Republicans remained skeptical that the administration was engaging in good faith negotiations, especially after efforts to reduce the The scope and price of Mr. Biden’s nearly $ 1.9 trillion pandemic relief program. quickly rejected and the White House passed this legislation without a single Republican vote.

Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said on Monday that the president was “absolutely” willing to negotiate not only a funding mechanism for the bill, but also its size and scope. When asked if Republicans should be skeptical of his desire for bipartisan support, given his stated desire to push the bill through the reconciliation budget process if it does not get it, Ms. Psaki highlighted his investment in awareness.

“You don’t use the president’s time multiple times, including the bipartisan meetings we’ve had before, or today’s meeting, if you don’t want to authentically hear the members present talking about their ideas,” he said. Ms. Psaki said.

Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, said Mr. Biden and his allies had assembled a “motley assortment of the left’s most cherished priorities” under the “so-called veil of infrastructure.”

Democrats, he said, “are embarking on an Orwellian campaign to convince everyone that any government policy whatever can be called infrastructure. The Liberals just have to believe it hard enough.

The president asked for Republican input, but his administration also made it clear that it did not want the negotiations to drag on. Majority leader Senator Chuck Schumer of New York plans to use the fast-track budget reconciliation process for the second time this exercise, potentially allowing Democrats to push through Mr. Biden’s infrastructure plan or other simple majority political priorities building on Ms. Harris’ vote as Speaker of the Senate to break the partisan 50-50 divide in the chamber.

The meeting was Mr Biden’s second meeting of lawmakers from both sides to discuss the infrastructure plan. Last month, it hosted members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and leaders of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to discuss the plan.

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Video: ‘Inaction is not an option,’ Biden says of infrastructure plan

This morning we learned that our economy created 900,000 jobs in March. This means that the first two months of our administration saw more new jobs created than the first two months in any administration in history. But we still have a long way to go to get our economy back on track after the worst economic and jobs crisis in nearly a century. But my message to the American people is this: the help is here. But as we get the economy back on its feet, we must strive to build back better for good, not just for a while, but for good. Not just in the short term, but for good. This is why I proposed the American plan for employment on Wednesday in Pittsburgh. An eight-year program that invests in our roads, bridges, broadband, airports, ports and the repair of our water systems. He’s going to fix our VA hospitals across the country, many of them over 50 and in dire need of help. It will invest in research and development to surpass China and the rest of the world. Independent analysis shows that if we adopt this plan, the economy will create 19 million jobs – good jobs, blue collar jobs, high paying jobs. Inaction is not an option. The American people have been promised a workable infrastructure for decades. They were promised that after decades our leaders would take our country and make it more competitive. I have been making my plan to meet this need for a long time. And it’s clear: polls already show strong support for infrastructure investment from the American people, whether they are Democrats, Republican or independent. Congress should debate my plan. Change it and offer alternatives if they think that’s what they should do. But Congress must act.

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Biden seeks to use infrastructure plan to tackle racial inequality

WASHINGTON – America’s most famous infrastructure initiative, the Interstate Highway System, crashed into an elevated freeway through central Claiborne Avenue in New Orleans in the late 1960s.

He claimed dozens of black-owned businesses, as well as oaks and azaleas that had shaded black children playing in the large, neutral lot in the middle of the street, gutting a bustling neighborhood whose residents fought in vain for stop construction.

More than half a century later, President Biden’s $ 2 trillion plan to rebuild the economy’s aging roads, bridges, railroads, and other foundations comes with a new twist: hundreds of billions of dollars which administration officials say will help reverse long-standing racial trends. disparities in the way the government builds, repairs and locates a wide range of physical infrastructure.

This includes $ 20 billion to “reconnect” communities of color to economic opportunities, such as black residents who still live in the shadow of the highway along Claiborne.

Mr Biden’s plan, which he unveiled in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, is the first step in a two-part program to rebuild the U.S. economy. The president and his advisers have presented this agenda – the total cost of which could reach $ 4 trillion – in broad terms of economic competitiveness and the granular language of shortened commute times.

But they also highlighted its potential to advance racial equity and close gaps in economic performance.

In addition to dedicated funding for neighborhoods separated or broken up by past infrastructure projects, the proposal also includes funds for replacing lead water pipes that have harmed black children in towns like Flint, Michigan; cleaning up the environmental dangers that have plagued Hispanic neighborhoods and tribal communities; worker training that would target underserved groups; and funds for home health aides, who are largely women of color.

More traditional efforts to close racial opportunity gaps, like universal pre-K education and more affordable higher education, are coming in the next phase of Mr. Biden’s plans. The exact mix of components is subject to change as Mr Biden tries to push the plans through Congress.

Given the weak Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, the legislative battle is likely to be intense and highly partisan, with no guarantee that the White House will win.

Republicans have opposed corporate tax increases, Mr Biden has offered to fund this phase of his program, and they have accused the president of using the popular banner of “infrastructure” to sell what ‘they call for independent liberal priorities – including many programs White House officials say this will advance economic opportunities for people and disadvantaged areas.

But liberal economists say spending on transportation, housing and other areas of Mr. Biden’s original plan could help advance racial equity, if done right.

“It’s a promising start,” said Trevon Logan, an economist at Ohio State University, whose work includes studies of how government spending plans, like the one that built the interstate highway system , have excluded or hurt Americans who are not white.

The most significant element of the plan’s racial equity efforts is not a transportation or environmental project, but a $ 400 billion investment in home care for elderly and disabled Americans. This would increase the wages of social workers, who are predominantly poorly paid, female and non-white.

“This is the first employment program that focuses primarily on work done by women of color,” said Mary Kay Henry, president of the International Union of Service Employees. “It will transform the lives of Blacks, Maroons and Asians, as well as entire communities.”

White House officials say the $ 100 billion allocated by the plan to improve and develop broadband internet will disproportionately help black and Latin American families, who have less access to affordable broadband than white families. .

Half of the $ 40 billion the plan would spend to modernize research labs across the country would go to colleges and universities that historically serve black students and other students of color.

Republicans have complained that much of the bill does not fund what they call traditional infrastructure like roads and bridges. “Biden’s plan includes hundreds of billions in spending for leftist policies and Blue State priorities,” the Republican National Committee wrote in a press release, including “$ 400 billion for a program of ‘unbound’ home care which ‘was a major demand. of certain trade union groups. “

Mr Biden said he wanted bipartisan support for the bill, but angered Tories and businesses by calling for funding it by raising corporate taxes. Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said Thursday that Mr Biden was open to discussing a smaller infrastructure bill with Republicans, although she said the White House did not had not received a proposal from them.

She declined to say what arrangements Mr. Biden would be willing to drop.

“The administration designed this bill with an effort to respond to the moment and do so in a way that ensures that we seek to address the challenges in our country through an equity lens,” Ms. Psaki.

Administration officials say concerns about racial inequalities are a driving force behind the infrastructure push. They peppered a 25-page explanation of the employment plan this week with references to racial equity, and they included two specific examples of the kind of communities they hope to raise with the $ 20 billion for economic revitalization. : the black neighborhood of Syracuse which had been partially bulldozed to make way for Interstate 81 and the Claiborne Expressway in New Orleans.

Government spending on infrastructure aims to make the economy more efficient. Highways and rail lines speed goods from factories to market. Roads and mass transit systems transport workers from their homes to their jobs.

But for some communities of color, these projects have devastated existing economies, leveling trade corridors, severing black neighborhoods from city centers, and accelerating suburban trends that have exacerbated segregation.

“Many of the government’s previous investments in infrastructure have deliberately left these communities out,” said Bharat Ramamurti, deputy director of Biden’s National Economic Council. “So if you look at where we need to invest in infrastructure now, a lot of it is concentrated in these communities.”

Earlier projects were often built in communities that had neither the political capital nor the resources to successfully protest.

“When it comes time to build a highway through a city, a pattern emerges: the areas that are displaced by that highway will be predominantly the areas occupied by African Americans,” said Dr. Logan. Often, he added, lawmakers choose to build “in places that have the least political power to ensure that does not happen in their neighborhood.”

Eric Avila, an urban historian at the University of California at Los Angeles, said a consensus under the Dwight D. Eisenhower administration on the need to invest in highways that would connect neighborhoods to cities led to exclusion minority communities.

The federal government has also used “urban renewal” or “slum clean-up” programs that have often led to clearing the way for giant infrastructure projects like highways.

“These highways were basically built as conduits of wealth,” Mr. Avila said. “Mainly wealth, jobs, people, white markets. Highways were built to promote connectivity between suburbs and cities. Those left behind were urban minorities. African Americans, immigrants, Latinos. “

Mr Avila highlighted how plans for the Inner Belt Freeway in Cambridge, Massachusetts were halted after protests from faculty members at Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

And in New Orleans, Mr Avila said, plans for a freeway called the Riverfront Expressway were canceled after officials came under pressure from protesters in the French Quarter. But black protesters couldn’t spare Treme, one of the oldest free black resident communities in the country, from building a six-lane elevated section of Interstate 10 along Claiborne Avenue.

Amy Stelly remembers this highway every morning when truck traffic makes her house shudder. Emissions from the freeway a block away turned the jewelry she placed near her window to jet black.

“Anyone who lives near an urban freeway knows what we breathe every day,” said Ms. Stelly, a city planner and campaigner against the project. “There’s a layer of silt sticking to our properties and homes.”

Mr Biden’s plan and conversations with White House officials fail to understand what the administration is planning for Claiborne Avenue. If the funding survives in a bill Mr Biden could sign, those details will matter, said Deborah Archer, director of the Center on Race, Inequality and the Law at New York University School of Law.

“I think it’s wonderful to be able to say and have the goal that this historic investment will advance racial equity,” said Ms. Archer. “It’s another thing to distribute these funds in a way that has an impact.”

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To boost support for Plan, Biden offers his own take on the ‘bipartisan’

WASHINGTON – President Biden’s attempt to bolster a $ 2 trillion plan to rebuild the country’s infrastructure – along with the tax increases to pay for them – will be a defining test of his belief that bipartisan support for his proposals can overwhelm traditional Republican objections in Congress.

Instead of curtailing his ambitions in an effort to curb Republican opposition in the Senate or appease moderate Democrats in the House, Mr. Biden and his allies on Capitol Hill are forging ahead with bold and costly shameless measures, betting that ‘they can build bipartisanship. voters across the country rather than elected officials in Washington.

Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader and other members of his party are trying to present the bill as a Liberal wish list of unnecessary spending and money-taking from a Democratic administration that slow down the economy with tax hikes.

But Mr Biden predicts that the broad appeal of wider roads, faster internet, high-speed trains, ubiquitous charging stations for electric cars, shiny new airport terminals and improved water pipes will reduce the expected barrage of ideological attacks that are already coming from Republican lawmakers, business groups, anti-tax activists and President Donald J. Trump.

During his first White House cabinet meeting on Thursday, Biden ordered several of his senior officials to travel the country over the next few weeks to sell the benefits of the infrastructure spending. Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, also told reporters the president would welcome Democrats and Republicans in the Oval Office to discuss the plan and their ideas.

“I hope and believe the American people will join this effort – Democrats, Republicans and Independents,” Biden said in Pittsburgh on Wednesday as he officially announced his plan. He compared it to the popularity of the nearly $ 1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill passed last month, saying, “If you live in a city with a Republican mayor, a county executive Republican or a Republican governor, ask them how many would rather get rid of. plan. “

But generating sustained support for the proposal promises to be a major challenge for the White House. The business lobby is preparing to lead a large-scale campaign against tax increases in the president’s plan, with influential groups like the Business Roundtable and the American Chamber of Commerce warning lawmakers against raising taxes as the United States emerges from a deep economic crisis caused. by the coronavirus pandemic.

But across the country, some local Republican officials are already embracing the prospect of millions of dollars in new infrastructure spending flowing into their communities, even as they are careful to voice concerns about the new taxes.

In Fresno, Calif., Mayor Jerry Dyer said the president’s proposals, if passed, would allow the city to speed up plans for a high-speed rail station connecting it to employment centers in the Greater Montreal area. bay. He said the city has struggled to electrify its bus fleet and provide robust internet, especially to poorer communities.

“These dollars will be welcome to repair much of our infrastructure,” said Mr. Dyer, a Republican. He said he was concerned about the effects of the tax hike on businesses, but added that he hoped the issue would be resolved in Washington.

“There is no doubt that the need is there,” he said.

Mayor John Giles of Mesa, Ariz. Called the president’s proposal “a very good thing” for his city. With that money, Mesa could modernize a 1970s airport tower, widen roads, expand broadband, and expand a regional light rail network. He said he was disappointed with the Republican opposition in Congress.

“Just a few months ago, we all agreed that infrastructure was a bipartisan issue,” Giles said. “This attitude should not change just because there is a new administration in the White House.”

But Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland, another Republican who called for a large infusion of infrastructure spending, accused Mr. Biden of using the legislation to advance $ 1.4 trillion in Liberal programs.

“There are still a lot of good things, but there are also a lot of things that have absolutely nothing to do with infrastructure,” Hogan said. “They’re like, ‘No, we just want to confuse all of our priorities.'”

Mr. Biden and those close to him understand that the passage of the legislation will take place in Washington, and not in Fresno, Mesa or Maryland. In announcing his plan, the president sought to make Congressional Republicans longtime champions of infrastructure, calling on them to negotiate and daring them to oppose his proposal.

“We will have a good faith negotiation with any Republican who wishes to help make this happen,” Biden said. “But we have to do it.”

That last line was a not-so-subtle allusion to his legislative strategy. If the president cannot win the support of Republican lawmakers, Democrats seemed poised to once again use a parliamentary budget tool known as reconciliation to push through the tax and spending plan with a simple majority vote and most likely. only Democratic support.

At an event in his home state on Thursday, Mr McConnell called Mr Biden a “top-notch person” whom he personally loved. But he argued that the president was leading a “bold left-wing administration” and warned that “this package that they are putting in place now, as much as we would like to address infrastructure, will not receive support from our side. “

For Mr. Biden, who has spent more than three decades in the Senate, the political calculations are far different from what they were 12 years ago, when a similar measure was under consideration.

President Barack Obama took office in 2009 amid an economic crisis with a Senate firmly under Democratic control. Just weeks into his tenure, he pushed through an $ 825 billion stimulus bill designed to jumpstart the economy – legislation that is now viewed by many progressives as far too timid.

Mr. Obama and his aides have spent weeks feverishly negotiating with conservative Democrats and a handful of Republicans in Congress, who have urged the president to limit the size of the spending plan. Rahm Emanuel, Mr. Obama’s chief of staff at the time, said conservative Democrats like Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska were insisting the president garner the support of Republicans.

Mr Biden appears to have learned from this experience the lesson that there are limited benefits to seeking to woo a small number of Republicans – and that the key is to sell the benefits of the plan to Americans and not get hung up on the process. to pass it.

“The policy was different, the policy was different, the audience was different,” Mr. Emanuel said, praising Mr. Biden’s approach.

Even before the president unveiled his plan, Republicans argued that Democrats weren’t really interested in bipartisan negotiations, especially after enacting the pandemic relief plan without any Republican votes.

Majority Leader Senator Chuck Schumer of New York asked the Senate parliamentarian for advice on how many times Senators can pursue reconciliation this fiscal year, which several Republicans took as a sign that they were preparing to bypass the systematic obstruction threshold of 60 votes.

“It is misleading for the president to invite Republicans to the White House and the Oval Office to discuss it when he said it very clearly – and the Democrats in Congress have made it very clear – they haven’t got it ‘intend to work with Republicans on this package,’ said Representative Kevin Brady of Texas, the top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee.

In an interview, Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine said she appreciated the administration’s outreach that led to Mr Biden’s announcement, including multiple bipartisan briefings for lawmakers and one-on-one conversations with representatives of the firm.

But Ms Collins, a member of a bipartisan Senate group keen to find compromises on a number of issues, said bipartisan negotiations would most likely fail if the administration refused to budge on the overall price or composition of the package.

“Everyone knows what bipartisanship means: it means members of Congress from both parties work and vote for important legislation,” she said, adding, “It’s not like it’s a relic of ancient times. We acted bipartisan on the most important issue last year: the pandemic. “

If Democrats are already considering using reconciliation, Collins said, “it raises questions as to whether there is a genuine interest in developing a bipartisan infrastructure package.”

Some Democrats said the proposal was not enough to address both infrastructure needs and inequality across the country, and they advised the White House not to dump a legislative package to win a handful of Republican votes. .

“I’m not particularly hopeful that we’re going to see a giant wake-up call from Republicans deciding they want to adopt an infrastructure package that actually addresses the climate,” Washington Representative Pramila Jayapal said, president of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. journalists before Mr. Biden’s speech.

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Child care in crisis: Can Biden’s plan save him?

Next, parents began dropping off the older siblings of some of the toddlers already enrolled in the program. Before she knew it, Ms Ballivian had 54 school-aged children at the center, up from zero before the pandemic.

Food turned out to be a challenge. Normally, the center received lunches for its children from the county school district. But when schools closed, so did their kitchens. Ms Ballivian’s team had to try to find a way to close the gap.

Fortunately, Ms. Ballivian already had a material handler’s license and some of her staff were trained in food preparation. So “we went to Best Buy and broke a deal with them and bought grills and air fryers,” she said. They would improvise breakfast every day, tossing chicken nuggets in the fryer or grilling vegetables.

“We did not know at the time that this situation was going to last until now,” she added. “We now have a full meal service program with a brand new commercial dishwasher.”

In May, she managed to secure a loan of around $ 500,000 under the Paycheck Protection Program included in the first bailout package passed by Congress last March, which carried the center through for some months. And Virginia, like a few other states, has abandoned its long-standing policy of government grants for children paid based on attendance, instead of paying child care based on enrollment. Since so many of Ms Ballivian’s children were eligible for government grants, this policy provided much-needed relief, she said.

But that policy expired on July 1.

And when in August the schools did not open, “the kids who were supposed to graduate and enter the school system never did, they stayed with us,” Ms. Ballivian said. “These kids are enrolled in the school system and receiving a virtual education, and what we’re doing here is to facilitate that virtual education.”

ACCA registrations didn’t drop much as the center served essential workers, but the costs of more desks and air filters, not to mention kitchen equipment, kept piling up. When cases of Covid occurred, parts of the school were expected to close for two weeks, resulting in a loss of income of $ 30,000 each time. In September, the center started to lose money.

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Biden’s infrastructure plan meets skepticism, signaling fight ahead

WASHINGTON – Republicans on Capitol Hill began lining up on Wednesday against President Biden’s $ 2 trillion infrastructure plan and the tax hikes he proposed to fund it, even as some Democrats have suggested that the package was insufficient to deal with the country’s aging infrastructure and vulnerabilities to climate change.

While most Democrats have praised Mr Biden for the broad package, criticism from members of both parties has illustrated that infrastructure legislation, once seen as a promising area of ​​bipartisan compromise, is unlikely. to go through this Congress with broad support from both sides.

Republicans scoffed at the scale of the plan – which includes traditional public works projects as well as large-scale initiatives to tackle climate change and racial inequalities in the economy – and condemned Mr. Biden to pay it off in part with corporate tax increases. .

“We can’t start to think of bills that spend trillions of dollars as the new normal,” said Rep. Sam Graves of Missouri, the top Republican on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “The President’s Blueprint is a multibillion-dollar partisan shopping list of progressive priorities, all categorized as ‘infrastructure’ and paid for by massive, job-destroying tax increases.”

And early concerns among some Democrats suggested the measure would likely have a more difficult path to enact than the nearly $ 1.9 trillion stimulus legislation, which quickly passed through Congress with only Democratic votes.

Some liberal lawmakers have said the package is too limited. In a statement, Representative Pramila Jayapal of Washington, the chair of the Progressive Caucus, called it a “welcome first step” but said it was “imperative that we act on a once-in-a-generation opportunity to use our majorities in power. “

“It doesn’t make sense to restrict its previous ambition on infrastructure or compromise with the physical realities of climate change,” Ms. Jayapal said of Mr. Biden. “We have a limited window to get there – we need to seize our chance to build back better with economy-wide investments that work for working families and communities of color.”

With slim majorities in the House and Senate leaving little room for defections, Democratic leaders must now start drafting a large and complicated bill that includes individual proposals for infrastructure projects and other national programs as well as changes in the tax code.

Mr Biden insisted he wanted the package to be bipartisan, but Republicans have already signaled they will insist on drastically cutting it, a move there is no indication he is ready to. to take.

“I will bring Republicans into the Oval Office, listen to what they have to say and be open to their ideas,” Biden said Wednesday. “We will have a negotiation in good faith.”

Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, said Mr Biden called him on Tuesday to discuss the outline of the package. But he warned that the proposal “is like a Trojan horse” – a comparison he has repeatedly deployed both in Washington and in his home state, where he has witnessed a series of events this past. week.

“It’s called infrastructure, but inside the Trojan there is more borrowed money and massive tax increases on all productive parts of our economy,” McConnell said. He said he probably would not support such a package “if there were to be massive tax increases and billions more added to the national debt”.

Republicans are already preparing to fight the plan. Marc Short, a longtime aide to former Vice President Mike Pence, has launched a new group, the Coalition to Protect American Workers, which aims to raise $ 25-50 million from Tory donors to defeat the infrastructure initiative.

“When you talk about tax hikes of this magnitude, I don’t see Republican support on the Hill,” he said.

While waiting for this possibility, New York Senator Chuck Schumer, Majority Leader and other high-level Democrats have already begun to explore how infrastructure legislation could evolve rapidly in the coming months as part of the same. accelerated budget reconciliation process they used for the stimulus measure. This would protect the plan from systematic obstruction and allow Democrats to beef it up through the Senate in the face of potentially unanimous Republican opposition.

Democrats believe Senate rules allow them to pursue at least two more reconciliation measures this year, beyond the one that carried the pandemic aid bill, and Mr Schumer asked the parliamentarian, the main person responsible for the application of the rules, to influence the issue. Democrats have yet to commit to using the maneuver, although Republicans have privately said the request is a sign their contribution will not be taken seriously.

President Nancy Pelosi of California suggested to Democrats that she hopes to pass the plan through the House by July 4, an ambitious timeline that could easily slip away as lawmakers rush to iron out details. Punchbowl News first reported on the tentative timeline.

Ms Pelosi and other top Democrats in both chambers were quick to praise the president’s proposal after setting it out in a speech in Pittsburgh on Wednesday. The plan, Ms. Pelosi said in a statement, “is a visionary, once in a century investment in the American people and in America’s future.”

Rep. Peter A. DeFazio of Oregon, chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said the package “is the kind of investment I think we should be making to bring our infrastructure out of the 1950s and enter the modern era ”.

Mr Biden is expected in the coming weeks to unveil the second installment of his infrastructure proposal, which is expected to focus on what liberal lawmakers have started to call the country’s human infrastructure, investing in education, child care children, paid holidays and taxes. credits intended to help families.

Democrats will also need to iron out differences between themselves over tax code changes to pay for both elements of Mr. Biden’s plan. Several Democrats, including Reps Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey and Tom Suozzi of New York, have said they will insist on reversing a change included in the 2017 tax overhaul that is hurting high incomes in states like New York and California. .

They want to roll back the limit on state and local tax deduction, known as SALT, which prevents households from deducting more than $ 10,000 a year from their federal tax bills.

“Changes to tax codes that affect families? No SALT, no deal, ”Mr. Gottheimer said in an interview Wednesday. “It’s going to be a negotiation, but I think the White House is open to it.”

Glenn thrush, Jim Tankersley and Pranshu Verma contribution to reports.

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Biden’s climate plan means tough choices: Which homes are saved?

While Mr. Trump was president, this idea continued to gain momentum after a series of devastating hurricanes. Agencies helping communities rebuild after disasters began to push for what they called “large-scale migration or resettlement”, buying and demolishing vulnerable homes. The Army Corps of Engineers even began telling local communities that in order to get certain types of federal assistance, they had to be willing to evict reluctant homeowners from hard-to-protect homes.

But going further with that logic and restraining new federal infrastructure spending in these areas was too difficult, Ms. Hill said.

The issue was raised again under the Trump administration but was quickly dismissed, according to a former administration official who worked on resilience issues and requested anonymity because they were not authorized by their current employer to speak to the media.

Mr Biden’s infrastructure proposal suggests that political pressure remains.

The proposal does not include the word retirement, but calls for “resettlement assistance to support community-led transitions for the most vulnerable tribal communities”. The plan does not say why resettlement assistance would apply specifically to Native American communities. In an interview, an administration official, who agreed to discuss the proposal on the condition that he is not identified by name, said the infrastructure package included money to improve data on future climate risks. This would allow governments to better understand the threats facing new projects, the person said, and to incorporate that information into decisions about how and where to build.

Jainey Bavishi, who worked on managed retirement policy as a senior official in the Obama administration, said the question was difficult because it went beyond engineering and finance.

Deciding where to retreat is also a matter of race and equity, she said, as many vulnerable areas are also minority communities that have suffered from a lack of government investment in the past. Retirement also has an impact on other political issues, such as the availability of affordable housing and the impact on the financial health of families.

“Talking about where people can live and where people cannot live is ultimately what it is,” said Ms. Bavishi, who is now the director of the mayor’s office of resilience in New York. “And these are really, really hard conversations to have.”

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Senate Democrats plan to use an obscure legislative tool to restore an Obama-era climate change rule.

Senate Democrats plan to deploy an obscure but powerful legislative weapon in the coming weeks in an attempt to quickly reinstate a major Obama-era climate change rule that the Trump administration effectively eliminated.

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, is expected to invoke the 1996 Congressional Review Act next month in an attempt to overturn a Trump rule finalized in September that lifted controls on the release of methane, a powerful gas that warms the planet. emitted by leaks and flares in oil and gas wells.

Democrats argue that the move, which will be sponsored by Senator Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, will have the legal effect of immediately reinstating Obama’s methane rules. This would be a much quicker timeline than the multi-year regulatory process typically required to rescind or reinstate regulations.

“The Trump rule to remove limits on methane emissions from oil and gas has been an illogical and devastating blow to one of the most important tools for reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” Mr. Schumer in a statement. “The Democratic Senate will hold a vote to overturn this rule, which is one of the many initiatives we are pursuing to tackle the climate crisis.”

Under the Congressional Review Act, any regulations finalized within 60 legislative days of the end of a presidential term can be overturned by a simple majority vote in the Senate.

Prior to 2017, the review process had only been used once, to overturn a Clinton-era rule on workplace ergonomics in 2001. Then, in the early months of the Trump administration, Senate Republicans used the procedure to erase 14 Obama-era regulations. in 16 weeks. Democrats now intend to use it to undo some of the executive policies enacted in the dying days of the Trump administration.

The most important of these would be the methane rules, which have been issued by the Environmental Protection Agency. While most climate change regulations target carbon dioxide, the most damaging greenhouse gas, methane comes in second, persisting in the atmosphere for a shorter period, but having a greater impact. as long as it lasts. By some estimates, methane has 80 times the heat-trapping power of carbon dioxide during the first 20 years in the atmosphere.

For Democrats to repeal the methane rule, they will likely need the 50 votes of their party’s tiny majority – including that of West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin III, who often votes with Republicans on environmental policy issues. . However, in 2017, Manchin voted with his party to maintain different regulations on methane pollution.