By Milo Mandelli-Valla
New York City, New York
President Joe Biden's administration promised to invest in a variety of areas, attempting to lift America out of the COVID-19 pandemic and spark the fire of the American economy.
One of these areas was America’s damaged infrastructure. Pres. Biden came out early in his presidency with a $2 trillion dollar proposal to tackle the issue. Many members of the Republican Party claimed Pres. Biden’s plan was a waste of money and went beyond the definition of infrastructure.
This plan included $621 billion to fix roads, bridges, rails, airports, and public transportation, while over $300 billion was set aside to renovate schools, revamp water infrastructure, and build affordable housing for Americans. These policies accounted for roughly half of what was in the plan. The other half was what concerned Republicans. This section included $174 billion for electric vehicles and $300 billion for manufacturing.
Furthermore, the plan pumped $400 billion into care for the elderly population. Republicans claimed that spending money on treating the elderly had nothing to do with infrastructure. Democrats responded that the definition of infrastructure is loose, and thus many parts of their agenda could be considered infrastructure. The Republicans were also concerned with how the bill would be funded, as they were opposed to printing money, which would cause inflation, or raising taxes on Americans.
The Republicans countered with an offer that was less than half of the White House’s proposal, cutting out all of the parts of the bill that they declared had nothing to do with infrastructure. The Republican plan put nearly $1 trillion towards roads, bridges, rails, water, airports, highway safety, and public transport. These are all areas that one would associate with infrastructure, though Democrats took a more progressive interpretation to create a more “equitable” infrastructure system.
Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) was the ticket to getting the White House’s bill passed through budget reconciliation. Since the Georgia runoffs ended in Democratic victory, the Senate is now split 50-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris available to cast a tie-breaking vote.
Unfortunately for the White House, Sen. Manchin—a member of a bipartisan coalition to prevent radical agendas from passing—refused to support the infrastructure deal and has held firm on the matter. Sen. Manchin also stands in the way of passing what he sees as radical policies, such as the Green New Deal and Medicare for All, that would create a completely new dynamic in Washington.
Sen. Manchin proposed his bill, which has now been agreed to by both a bipartisan coalition and the Biden administration. The bill takes the framework of the Republican counter-offer and adds in $30 billion of electric vehicle funding and roughly $120 billion on infrastructure that would make the US more resilient against climate change.