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White House Planning Ambitious Infrastructure Bill, With Focus on Green Projects

The bill reportedly includes more than $400 billion on climate change initiatives aimed at reducing carbon emissions.

President Joe Biden stops to talk to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House.

The White House is currently developing an ambitious plan for President Joe Biden to review that would focus on significant national infrastructure projects and other domestic policies the president has signaled support for in the past.

No formal announcement has been made about the plan as of yet, and some aspects of it could change, but sources with knowledge of what it will include suggest it will be part of Biden’s “Build Back Better” initiative. The New York Times was the first to report on the plan’s development within the administration.

“President Biden and his team are considering a range of potential options for how to invest in working families and reform our tax code so it rewards work, not wealth,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said. “Those conversations are ongoing, so any speculation about future economic proposals is premature and not a reflection of the White House’s thinking.”

The plan, according to sources with knowledge of what it includes, will cost an estimated $3 trillion, and would contain two component parts.

The first part would focus on infrastructure projects, with particular emphasis toward measures that aim to reduce carbon emissions, with around $400 billion alone focusing on climate change initiatives. There could be, for example, a massive expansion of electric vehicle charging stations across the United States. Sources indicate $60 billion will be dedicated to investing in green transit alone, with another $46 billion dedicated to future climate-related research and development projects.

Beyond green initiatives, the infrastructure part of the bill will also focus on creating $200 billion for housing, $100 billion of which will expand housing for Americans with low incomes. These housing projects will also create energy efficient, green units for people to live within.

And as the Times reported, $1 trillion alone would be dedicated toward roads, bridges, rail, improvements to the nation’s electrical grids, and other similar projects.

The second component of the overall plan would be aimed at domestic policies Biden has campaigned on, including universal prekindergarten, an expansion on child care services, and extending the child tax credit that was part of the recent COVID stimulus package. Other parts of the plan would make community colleges free throughout the U.S. and reduce tuition at historically Black colleges and universities. There would also be an extension of subsidies within the Affordable Care Act.

The final bill could also include measures that would force pharmaceutical companies to lower prices for drugs, or face penalties for failing to do so. Lowering the costs of prescription drugs, which was also in a bill proposed by Democrats in 2019, could save the federal government $450 billion on its own.

Officials have suggested that the overall plan could be paid for by such cost reductions as well as through tax increases, including raising the corporate tax rate from 21 percent to a higher rate, possibly to 28 percent (which is still far lower than what it had been four years ago, when it was at 35 percent). The administration may also aim at getting multinational companies to pay a higher amount of taxes to the U.S., and may raise taxes on incomes for those earning $400,000 or more annually.

Because of the high spending as well as the possibility of raising taxes on high incomes and corporations, the package probably won’t garner much support from Republican lawmakers. Democratic leaders in Congress, however, believing Republicans will attempt to block Biden’s proposals no matter what compromises are offered to them, are considering ways to possibly pass such a massive spending package without the GOP’s help, much like they did for the stimulus relief bill earlier this month.

Biden still has to review the proposals being considered by his administration before giving the “sign-off” on them, and plans to consult with Democratic legislative leaders before making his final decision on any of the package’s ideas.

While some have likely looked at what’s being proposed and wondered if it’s too much, others have said the plan as reported on so far doesn’t go far enough. Evan Weber, co-founder and political director of the Sunrise Movement, a youth movement that aims to stop climate change while creating millions of jobs, tweeted on Monday that Biden should aim to do more.

“Glad [Biden is] not backing down on bold infra plan to create millions of good jobs tackling climate crisis,” Weber wrote, “but $3 trillion is way too small. Even [centrist Democratic Sen. Joe] Manchin says he’d support $4 trillion package.”

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