Republican infrastructure plan marks start of negotiations

April 23, 2021

Mark Schremmer

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Improving the nation’s infrastructure is a priority for both Republicans and Democrats, but the parties tend to disagree over the size and scope of proposed investments.

Senate Republicans this week unveiled a $568 billion plan over five years that would invest in roads and bridges, public transit, railroads, water, highway safety, ports, broadband, airports, and water storage.

Despite being more than a half-trillion dollar investment, the plan is modest compared to President Joe Biden’s $2.25 trillion proposal over eight years that would be aimed at tackling the standard infrastructure needs but also would look to create millions of jobs, provide care to the elderly and disabled, and make the nation more environmentally friendly.

Biden calls his plan a “once-in-a-generation investment” that would put the United States in position to win the global competition with China.

Most Republicans oppose the plan’s corporate tax increase and say the money should go to roads, bridges, increased broadband, and other physical infrastructure. Although the Republican overall plan would invest about a fourth of Biden’s proposal, it would spend $299 billion on roads and bridges compared to $115 billion in the president’s plan. However, the Republican plan would invest less in broadband, public transit, and rail.

“We’ve talked a lot about this,” Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W. Va., said at a news conference on Thursday, April 22. “Core infrastructure. Physical infrastructure. What do people think of in our states when they think of infrastructure? Roads and bridges, public transit systems, rail, water and wastewater, ports and inland waterways, airports, broadband … and, lastly, water storage and safety.”

The Republican infrastructure plan

The $568 billion infrastructure plan offered by Senate Republicans would include:

  • $299 billion for roads and bridges.
  • $61 billion for public transit.
  • $20 billion for rail.
  • $35 billion for drinking water and wastewater.
  • $13 billion for safety programs through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.
  • $17 billion for ports and inland waterways.
  • $44 billion for airports.
  • $65 billion in additional spending for broadband infrastructure.
  • $14 billion for water storage.

The Republican plan does not provide a specific funding strategy but promotes partnership with state and local governments, private investment, and ensuring that all highway users, including drivers of electric vehicles, contribute to the investment.

“Our infrastructure needs to be rebuilt, expanded, and brought into the 21st century with a forward-leaning vision,” the framework to the Republican plan stated. “Congress and the Biden administration must reach a bipartisan agreement that will improve the infrastructure in all states and communities, while achieving important national goals.”

The White House said it viewed the Republican infrastructure plan as a starting point for negotiations. LL

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Mark Schremmer

Mark Schremmer, senior editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and more than two decades of journalism experience to our staff.