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Pelosi revives ambitious infrastructure bill for next stimulus

Jessica Wehrman, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- Democrats have responded to President Donald Trump's call for a $2 trillion infrastructure investment in the next coronavirus relief bill by dusting off the five-year, $760 billion infrastructure plan they introduced in January.

The proposal would invest $329 billion for highways and bridges and aim to increase the availability of electric-vehicle charging stations and alternative fueling options. It would also include $105 billion for transit, $55 billion for rail, $30 billion for airports, $50.5 billion for wastewater and $86 billion to expand broadband.

It also proposes $10 billion for community health centers, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said during a press call Wednesday. Democratic lawmakers on the call argued that investing in infrastructure would be an ideal way to build an economy virtually shut down by the coronavirus pandemic.

They'd been in talks with Trump through last May about a comprehensive infrastructure plan, but talks broke down when Trump, during a White House meeting with Pelosi, demanded she stop "phony investigations" of him.

The talks stopped, and in December, House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Peter A. DeFazio, D-Ore., announced he'd push for a large-scale proposal regardless of White House support. Lawmakers were at odds over how best to pay for a massive infrastructure investment, with lawmakers like DeFazio pushing for an increase in the federal gas tax and others pushing for a shift to an alternative that would charge drivers based on vehicles miles traveled.

But the urgency of the pandemic, which spurred lawmakers to authorize $2 trillion last week alone, as well as Trump's tweet Monday have effectively restarted the conversation.

 

"With interest rates for the United States being at ZERO, this is the time to do our decades long awaited Infrastructure Bill," Trump tweeted. "It should be VERY BIG & BOLD, Two Trillion Dollars, and be focused solely on jobs and rebuilding the once great infrastructure of our Country!"

"For once, I agree with him on a step he wants to take," DeFazio said.

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