House Democrats Unveil $760B Infrastructure Plan

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House Democratic leaders unveiled in broad brush strokes, the outline of a plan for a $760 billion, five-year infrastructure package Wednesday. In dollars to be spent, the Democrats’ package rivals the $1.5 trillion, 10-year infrastructure plan the president released two years ago. But his would have relied mainly on state, local and private dollars, and focused on reducing the time-consuming permitting process, reports Politico.

The framework that Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other House Democrats released Wednesday includes a mixture of existing highway, transit and water legislation. It also includes $80 billion over five years to pay for high-speed broadband in “underserved” communities, said House Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ). 

“That’s rural areas, that’s urban, what we call urban broadband deserts. We have about $12 billion for next-generation 911 that allows you to basically use your cell phone, for example, to send text messages or images,” explained Pallone. 

Pelosi, meanwhile, told reporters the package, “is a big step, and a major expense. We have to find the funding for it.” She offered no timetable of when the Democrats plan to turn the package into legislation the House will vote on. “We’ll go to the floor when we’re ready,” she said. “We’re not talking about next week,” Pelosi added, according to Politico.

On Tuesday, Republicans on the House Transportation Committee issued their own infrastructure principles, which included a desire for greater project and permit streamlining. The panel’s top Republican, Missouri Rep. Sam Graves, said in a statement Wednesday that “any serious effort … must incorporate Republican principles as well.” He said that he, “may not agree with all of the principles in the majority’s outline, but as the Republican leader of this Committee, I expect to play a constructive role in the development of infrastructure bills before us this year.”

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