Update on Infrastructure Package

May 18, 2021

There may be potential for a bipartisan infrastructure bill as talks between the White House and Republican leadership continue, although disagreements over funding could still halt a deal.

The original Republican proposal outlined a $568 billion, five-year plan focused on “traditional” infrastructure provisions. NSBA provided details about the proposal here. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said his party could support a package of as much as $800 billion. However, President Biden’s original plan is significantly larger, with $2.5 trillion of spending over eight years and investments in more areas than the counter plan. NSBA prepared a detailed checklist of the proposal.

Senate Republicans are expected to deliver a revised offer of an infrastructure package to the White House by early next week. Meanwhile, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and Senate Environment and Public Works Committee are working on detailed legislative language.

While the Biden proposal was accompanied by a detailed tax plan to pay for the package, the Republicans have yet to release detailed funding measures. The White House has opposed user fees and Republicans have opposed rolling back the 2017 tax cuts. However, Republicans have indicated some openness to increased Internal Revenue Service enforcement as a way to raise revenue.

On May 18, the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on “Funding and Financing Options to Bolster American Infrastructure.” Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Or.) said that in his view there’s “an obvious answer” to pay for the package –– “It’s long past time for mega-corporations to pay a fair share for building and repairing roads and bridges.”

In contrast, Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee said that “there is no silver bullet for how to pay for transportation infrastructure, but historically it has been paid for by user fees.”

The goal for the White House is to have an agreement with the Republicans by the end of the month. President Biden is expected to revise his package proposal after receiving the Republican offer in order to move the talks forward.