Congress Moving On To Infrastructure Bill, Confirms More Appointees
With the $1.9 trillion federal COVID relief package done, the Biden Administration and Congressional leadership are turning attention to infrastructure to create new jobs and re-energize the economy.
Thursday, House Democrats jump-started discussion with a $312 billion proposal that would make the country’s electric grid more resilient to natural disasters, replace lead drinking water pipes, and deploy electric vehicles.
There is broad, bipartisan support in Congress for a comprehensive infrastructure package; however, there are significant differences of opinion on major issues between Congressional leaders, such as the scope, how and when to advance the legislation through both Chambers, and how to pay for it.
In addition, the House and Senate will need to reach a final agreement on how earmarks may be used. Earmarks allow Members of Congress to direct funding to certain projects in their districts and can be used as carrots and sticks for securing votes on key pieces of legislation.
The White House said the Biden Administration will release an infrastructure framework but will look to Congress to draft the legislation.
President Biden’s State of the Union Address slipped into mid-April, after which the Administration will release their budget requests.
Once the requests are issued, Congress is expected to focus on infrastructure legislation with the goal of passing legislation before the August recess. Leaders will aim to finalize conference negotiations before the current surface authorization expires September 30th.
The Senate also continues to press forward and confirm key agency officials as the Senate confirmed Merrick Garland to serve as Attorney General and Michael Regan as the EPA Administrator.
Administrator Regan said, “The EPA will prove that environmental protection and economic prosperity go hand in hand – and we will seize this opportunity to create a healthier, more just future for all.”
Prior to his confirmation, Regan served as the Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality and served as the EPA program manager responsible for designing strategic solutions with industry and corporate stakeholders to reduce air pollution, improve energy efficiency and address climate change.