Business News: Water law may give way to Biden infrastructure plan.
Seldom has a routine water resources bill generated so much political stir, but when senators upped the measure to pass Thursday, bipartisan infrastructure legislation served as a potential model to build consensus on the ambitious plan for jobs. American President Joe Biden.
The Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act of 2021 authorizes approximately $ 35 billion over five years to improve leaking pipes and upgrade facilities, and is widely supported by lawmakers and their home states. This time around, however, it could be much more: a building block in Biden’s broader $ 2.3 trillion proposal to invest in roads, bridges and other infrastructure.
Senators overwhelmingly endorsed the measure, 89-2, in what Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., called “a prime example” of what’s possible in Congress. However, the day after Biden’s speech at a joint session of Congress in which he outlined his broad proposals to reinvest in American infrastructure, the path to take should be long and politically daunting.
With Congress essentially divided, and Democrats holding only meager majorities in the House and Senate, Biden and congressional leaders will soon have to decide how they plan to turn his priority legislation into law. The White House is turning to Republicans as Biden courts GOP lawmakers for their contribution to the package and winning their votes. Biden spoke on the phone Thursday with Senator Shelley Moore Capito, RW.Va., a water bill leader who is also working on a Republican. alternative to the Biden infrastructure plan.
They had a warm and friendly conversation, reiterating their readiness to negotiate, the White House said. They also discussed another potential face-to-face meeting in the near future. “We have both expressed our mutual desire to work together and find common ground,” Capito, the top Republican for the environment and public works committee, said in a statement.
Capito called it “a constructive and substantive call” and said it is ready to “be a partner in advancing infrastructure legislation in a bipartisan way, just as we have done in the past.” But most Republicans oppose Biden’s overall agenda as the big government goes further. Together, the American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan, a solid investment in pre-school, community college and children’s tax breaks, total $ 4 trillion.
The water bill is an example of what is possible, but also the open gap. The $ 35 billion effort is far less than what the president proposed, $ 111 billion over eight years, for water projects in his grand infrastructure plan. But it’s in line with what Capito and the Republican senators proposed last week as a counter-offer to Biden’s package, and could serve as an element or starting point in the talks.
“We know the next two weeks and months are going to be tough,” Capito said in a speech before the vote. But he said he hoped colleagues “would remember this moment”. The water bill is the kind of routine legislation that has been a pillar on Capitol Hill, but that lawmakers have struggled to slip between partisanship and blockade and the power that party leaders wield over the process in recent years. legislative.
Part of the exuberance among senators this week was the very act of legislating, carrying the bill through the give-and-take process of the commission and into the Senate chamber for amendments and debate.