As President Joe Biden tours the country touting his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill, the White House has its sights set on the next set of big domestic priorities – assembling a sweeping $3 trillion infrastructure and jobs bill that would encompass major domestic priorities such as universal pre-kindergarten, free community college, and paid family leave, according to The Associated Press.
The news of the measure was first reported by The New York Times. The measure is not yet finalized, but would feature a combined $3 trillion in spending proposed to boost the economy and improve quality of life, according to a person familiar with the options who insisted on anonymity to discuss private conversations with the AP.
The proposal would reportedly be split into two components – the first, a major infrastructure package, would devote about $1 trillion for roads, bridges, ports, rail lines, electrical vehicle charging stations, and the cellular network, among other items, facilitating economic competitiveness while shifting to cleaner energy solutions.
The second would include investments in workers with free community college, universal pre-kindergarten, and paid family leave.
Details of the measure have not been worked out and spending specifics are still subject to change.
"President Biden and his team are considering a range of potential options for how to invest in working families and reform our tax code so it rewards work, not wealth," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement. "Those conversations are ongoing, so any speculation about future economic proposals is premature and not a reflection of the White House's thinking."
While the goal is a bipartisan package, Democrats in Congress have signaled a willingness to go it alone if they are blocked by Republicans.
"We need to get it done," said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), ahead of the virtual meeting with Biden at the senators’ annual retreat Monday evening.
Biden's goal, however, is to get Republican support for the measure – but has also showed willingness to pass the bill through reconciliation, similar to the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) asked Democratic committee chairmen earlier this month to start working with their Republican counterparts to begin "to craft a big, bold and transformational infrastructure package" with the goal of creating an economic relief plan to help "people in every zip code by creating good-paying jobs for the future."
The administration is positioning its priorities at a politically and fiscally sensitive time, after funding its $1.9 trillion relief package entirely with debt. The Federal Reserve estimates that spending could push growth this year to 6.5%, and additional spending would only add pressure to an economy already expected to run hot.
Biden’s campaign proposed higher corporate taxes and increases on people making more than $400,000 annually, effectively undoing much of the 2017 tax cuts by his predecessor, Donald Trump.
A White House official said the president has been very clear about his agenda, even though the details are only just starting to surface. The official insisted on anonymity to discuss private conversations.
On Monday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee debated a $300 billion-plus measure to invest in drinking water, broadband and other priorities. On Thursday, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is set to appear before the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Next week, the Senate Finance Committee is scheduled to release a white paper revisiting the overseas tax code as a way to pay for some of the spending.
The focus on infrastructure shifts attention away from the administration's handling of the U.S.-Mexico border and back toward policies which are more somewhat more popular with Americans and potentially bipartisan.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) used his opening remarks Monday in the Senate to trash the infrastructure proposal, warning it would only lead to tax hikes and what he called "left-wing policies."
"We’re hearing the next few months might bring a so-called infrastructure proposal that may actually be a Trojan horse for massive tax hikes and other job-killing, left-wing policies," McConnell said.
He derided the Democratic proposals as similar to the Green New Deal, a sweeping plan to address climate change that he said would cost “unbelievable sums.”
Biden is expected to roll out his budget in the weeks ahead as Congress presses forward on the infrastructure package, which lawmakers have said could be ready by summer.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.