House Democrats Introduce $760 Billion Infrastructure Plan

January 30, 2020 Updated: January 30, 2020

House Democrats on Jan. 29 introduced a plan to invest $760 billion over five years to maintain and rebuild U.S. infrastructure.

The plan (pdf), called the “Moving Forward Framework,” aims to invest the money into roads, bridges, transit systems, railways, airports, ports, inland waterways, wastewater and drinking water systems, brownfields, and broadband.

The framework aims to “create an estimated 10 million jobs, while reducing carbon pollution, dramatically improving safety, and spurring economic activity.” It isn’t a formal bill but serves to guide House committees seeking to eventually introduce legislation related to the country’s infrastructure.

A fact sheet (pdf) overview of the plan shows that Democrats want to assign $329 billion to “Modern Highways & Highway Safety Investments.” The money will be allocated to revamp roads and bridges, and also be dedicated to “dramatically increasing the availability of charging stations and other alternative fueling options for electric and zero-emissions vehicles.”

Other costs outlined in the plan include $105 billion for public transit, $55 billion for the passenger rail network, $30 billion for airport investments, $50.5 billion for water and wastewater infrastructure, $25.4 billion on drinking water, and $86 billion for expanding broadband access across the country.

Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) said in a statement that the framework “combats climate change by reducing carbon emissions and moving us towards a clean energy future,” and “will also create good-paying jobs, ensure that no community is left behind in the digital economy, and help protect Americans’ drinking water.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) didn’t specify when the Democrats intend to introduce the plan as legislation to the chamber.

“Don’t worry about the timetable, just rest assured that when we’re ready we will come to the Floor,” Pelosi told reporters at a press conference. “And it won’t be soon—we’re not talking about next week or something. The committees are working their way and when we’re ready, we’ll bring it to the floor. We’ll see.”

Specifics as to where the money to fund the investments would come from weren’t explicitly stated in the plan, although part of the plan has outlined a number of areas from which funding could be secured.

“I think it’s really important that we not volunteer a revenue stream until the administration reaches an agreement with us,” House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) said at a news conference, according to The Hill. “And I think that that will provide an opportunity for Republicans and Democrats after our committee negotiates with them over what the revenue stream ought to be, to get on with what is a sorely needed investment in America.”

The House Ways and Means Committee discussed funding options at a hearing on Jan. 29 titled “Paving the Way for Funding and Financing Infrastructure Investments.”

Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), the ranking Republican on the committee, said at the hearing that he hopes infrastructure costs won’t come by way of tax increases on the American people or on businesses.

Neal has indicated that he has spoken to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin about working on infrastructure legislation with the Trump administration that can receive bipartisan support, according to The Hill.

A previous attempt to spearhead an infrastructure plan came to a standstill in 2019. President Donald Trump and Democrats concurred on a $2 trillion infrastructure plan in late April 2019. At the time, White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said a deal would be unlikely because Democrats wouldn’t support environmental deregulation, which the Trump administration insisted is needed to speed up construction.

Progress on the plan failed due to disagreements over how to fund it, and Trump later suspended the effort in late May 2019, calling on Democrats to stop investigations targeting the White House at the time.

Democrats’ unveiling of its latest infrastructure plan comes just weeks after Trump introduced a plan in early January to speed up the permit process for major infrastructure projects as part of his efforts to cut regulatory red tape to boost industry.

Trump has pointed to deregulation and tax cuts as the major drivers behind the surging U.S. economy.

Follow Mimi on Twitter: @MimiNguyenLy