GOP Infrastructure Counterproposal

May 6, 2021

Senate Republicans rolled out a counterproposal to President Biden’s infrastructure investment plan that seeks to narrow the scope and cost of the package. With $568 billion in proposed spending, the Republican framework released April 22 – dubbed “the Republican Roadmap” – is about a quarter of total spending in the American Jobs Plan President Biden unveiled in late March.

The document defines infrastructure as roads and bridges, public transit systems, rail, drinking water and wastewater infrastructure, ports and inland waterways, airports, safety, broadband infrastructure, and water storage. A Republican criticism of the White House plan has been its call for investment in areas outside the traditional infrastructure space, including in home health care and elder care, schools, daycare centers, and fighting climate change.  

Specifically, the framework calls for:

  • $299 billion for roads and bridges
  • $61 billion for public transit,
  • $20 billion for rail
  • $35 billion for drinking water and wastewater
  • $13 billion for safety
  • $17 billion for ports and waterways
  • $44 billion for airports
  • $65 billion for broadband
  • $14 billion for water storage

The document also states that infrastructure legislation should avoid increasing the federal debt, shore up dedicated revenue sources such as trust funds (which are funded mostly by fuel taxes), ensure electric vehicle users are contributing revenue to cover the cost of highway construction and maintenance, and repurpose unused federal spending. It also calls for preserving the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act by “protecting against any corporate or international tax increases” and ensuring that the current cap on the deduction allowed for individuals’ state and local tax payments stays in place beyond its scheduled expiration at the end of 2025.

The document also lays out the goals of the roadmap:

  • Boosting economic growth and global competitiveness and creating jobs
  • Bolstering the country’s ability to respond to and withstand extreme weather events and natural disasters and protecting the environment
  • Strengthening national security and continuing to improve safety
  • Improving the quality of life for all Americans

Some lawmakers have suggested that a path forward for infrastructure legislation may require a smaller bipartisan bill addressing traditional infrastructure, followed by a bill that includes additional Democratic priorities that could pass without any Republican support through the process of budget reconciliation.

A handful of Democrats have been meeting regularly with Republicans in recent weeks to try and work toward a feasible compromise, but they have made clear that they do not want talks to continue for long if there are no clear signs that a compromise is truly possible. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said she would like to move an infrastructure bill through the House by July 4, but it is unclear if that timeline is realistic given the extensive negotiations, legislative drafting, and revenue scoring that would have to precede any floor action.