The Democrat-controlled House passed a $715 billion transportation and water bill, calling it “transformational legislation” while Republicans called it a partisan exercise. The INVEST in America Act passed essentially along party lines by a vote of 221-201, with two Republicans voting in favor of the package.
Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) praised the bill for addressing the decades of underinvestment in American infrastructure.
“By passing the INVEST in America Act today, the House took a bold and badly-needed step to build for the future, tackle the existential threat of climate change by modernizing our transportation systems to cut carbon pollution, and improve the lives of hundreds of millions of people. I will waste no time getting to work with the Senate to deliver a transformational infrastructure package to the president’s desk,” DeFazio said in a press statement on Thursday.
Meanwhile, the Republican leader of the committee Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO) criticized the bill for prioritizing the Democrats’ agenda instead of working with GOP members to bring a bill to the Senate that would pass in the tied chamber.
“The extreme partisan policies throughout the Speaker’s My Way or the Highway Bill aren’t going to get the support needed to pass the Senate, so the Majority has wasted another year on yet another messaging bill instead of working on a strong bipartisan proposal we can take to conference with the Senate,” said Graves on Thursday in a statement. “This was a missed opportunity for partnership and for passing a bill that addresses the real infrastructure needs of all our communities, from our largest cities to the most rural areas.”
On June 24 Biden announced that a bipartisan deal had been reached, with the $1.2 trillion infrastructure package, which was hammered out last week by the President and 10 senators—five from each party.
Along with the bipartisan infrastructure bill, Democrats are also pushing a partisan $1.8 trillion piece of legislation called the American Families Plan, which includes spending on climate change, medicare expansion, and more of the Democratic Party’s progressive priorities. They have said they will pass it without GOP support via the budget reconciliation process, which needs a simple majority in the Senate.
DeFazio said The INVEST in America Act will lay “the groundwork for President Biden’s vision on infrastructure.”
The House bill contains (pdf) $343 billion for roads, bridges, and safety, $109 billion for transit, $95 billion for rail, and nearly $170 billion for water and wastewater projects. The House adopted dozens of amendments Wednesday and Thursday that Democratic lawmakers projected will increase the overall cost of the bill by about $44 billion with most of that increase going to the installation of electric vehicle charging stations.
The Democrat legislation also includes their climate change priorities by funding “investment in zero-emission transit vehicles, supporting fleet conversion to reduce local air pollution and related health impacts.”
Graves and majority House Republicans objected to the cost of the bill, saying it will drive up inflation.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said at a press conference Thursday that the bill, “is a transformative opportunity for us not only to build the infrastructure of America but to rebuild the middle class of America. It does so by putting equity front and center …”