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House Democrats Eye Changes to Senate Infrastructure Deal

Politics1 hour ago (Jun 30, 2021 01:09PM ET)

(C) Bloomberg. U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California, speaks during a news conference on the INVEST in America Act at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, June 30, 2021. The measure would authorize about $547 billion over five years for surface transportation infrastructure, according to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

(Bloomberg) — House Democrats plan to seek changes to the Senate’s $973 billion bipartisan infrastructure framework through informal negotiations in the coming weeks, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a key committee chairman said Wednesday.

The House is poised to pass its own $715 billion, five-year surface transportation and water infrastructure plan on Thursday. Unlike the bipartisan Senate deal, the bill doesn’t include a full suite of funding measures. It does contain major changes to highway and climate policies that are lacking in the Senate bill.

“Our caucus is very, very pleased with the bipartisan agreement that the president was able to achieve working with Democrats and Republicans in the Senate,” Pelosi said. “It has many good features to it in terms of numbers, but not policy.”

House Transportation Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio said at the same briefing that the Senate proposals “are within shouting distance, so I believe we can work out the spending levels in the bill, but there is no policy attached to their proposal.”

Rather than waiting for the Senate to pass the bipartisan deal — which is still being written into legislative language — and then go into a formal House-Senate conference committee negotiation, immediate, high-level talks to reach a compromise would be preferable, DeFazio said.

Quickest Timeline

“If they want to dispatch of this quickly — and they’re talking about July, which is a very quick timeline to, you know, negotiate policy in any major way, and the numbers again to help pay for them are outside my realm so I can’t comment on them at all — then I would suggest it would probably be a much quicker, more informal process,” he said.

House Republicans are expected to mainly oppose the transportation and water package, even though it includes many earmarked projects from GOP members. The Senate’s bipartisan bill — which amounts to $579 billion in new spending, or $973 billion when regular maintenance spending is factored in — initially won support from 21 senators, including 11 Republicans, enough for it to pass by regular order in that chamber.

Some of those GOP senators have since objected, after it was linked by Biden to a bigger, Democrat-only budget bill.

The House transportation bill has policies not in the Senate agreement including prioritizing repair of crumbling roads and bridges over new construction; giving states and localities more flexibility to determine best uses of federal dollars; and an $8 billion fund to reduce carbon emissions.

The House has also put forward billions of dollars in earmarked, local projects that Democrats have been touting in their districts for weeks.

Pelosi reiterated that any final infrastructure deal would not be voted on in the House until a separate multitrillion-dollar budget bill carrying President Joe Biden’s tax and social spending agenda clears the Senate. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell earlier this week called on the speaker to de-link the two bills after Biden clarified that he would be willing to sign an infrastructure bill even if Congress does not send him the other budget bill to sign as well.

Read More: McConnell Wants Infrastructure De-Linked From Spending Bill

(C)2021 Bloomberg L.P.

House Democrats Eye Changes to Senate Infrastructure Deal

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