President Biden unveiled a massive infrastructure bill during a speech at a Pittsburgh, Pa., union hall Wednesday afternoon, touting the first legislative proposal in a two-part plan expected to cost taxpayers several trillion dollars.
Biden began his speech by praising the role of unions in American life, and asserted that his plan would create jobs for union workers.
“I’m a union guy,” Biden said. “I support unions, unions built the middle class, and it’s about time they start to get a piece of the action.
The plan itself represents a “once in a generation investment in America, unlike anything we’ve seen or done since we built the interstate highway system, and the space race decades ago,” Biden said. “In fact, it’s the largest American jobs investment since World War II.”
The American Jobs Act, released by the White House earlier in the day, aims to finance the repair of U.S. roads, railways, and other transportation infrastructure, and create jobs in the process. The bill provides $115 billion to repair roads and bridges, $85 billion for public transportation, $80 billion for railroads, and $25 billion for airports.
The plan focuses funds on attempts to combat climate change, including by allocating $174 billion toward the establishment of a national network of charging stations for electric vehicles and other incentives to produce EV’s.
A significant component of the proposal — drawn from legislation known as the Pro Act, which passed the House Wednesday — would eliminate the Right to Work legislation that has passed in 27 states, which gives workers the ability to refuse to contribute dues to their local union. Should the bill pass, that component is expected to face legal challenges.
Additionally, the bill provides funding for expanding rural broadband access and affordable housing projects that utilize clean energy. Around $213 billion is set aside toward building and repairing affordable housing, $100 billion goes toward rural broadband, and efforts to improve public school infrastructure and the country’s electrical grids will receive another $100 billion each.
“When we make all of these investments, we’re going to make sure…that we buy American,” Biden said. “That means investing in America-based countries and American workers.”
The president added that the bill would “promote our national security interests, and put us in a position to win the global competition with China in the upcoming years.”
The second component of the Biden administration’s spending plan will reportedly be focused on education, and will include universal pre-kindergarten coverage and provisions to make community college free for all Americans. However, the administration will attempt to pass the infrastructure bill before moving on to its education initiative.
Biden officials have reportedly considered a range of potential tax increases to fund the infrastructure and education projects. The bill calls for raising the corporate tax rate from 21 percent to 28 percent and implementing a so-called global tax intended to prevent corporations from seeking tax havens abroad. But the plan would require international buy-in in order for it to have its intended effect.
The increases would face opposition from Republicans as well as some Democrats. Several moderate House Democrats told Axios that they would not vote to raise taxes unless the legislation expands the State and Local Tax (SALT) deduction that the Trump administration capped at $10,000 in 2017.
“We need to be careful not to do anything that’s too big or too much in the middle of a pandemic and an economic crisis,” Representative Josh Gottheimer (D., N.J.) said on Monday. “t’s got to be responsible and both parties need to be at the table. This can’t just be jammed through without input and consideration from the other side.”
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