January 28, 2023

Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), leader of the U.S. minority, can be seen on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 13, 2021.

Evelyn Hockstein | Reuters

WASHINGTON – The Republicans of the House on Wednesday introduced a 5-year transportation bill of $ 400 billion, which sets the historical funding for highways, bridges and transit systems.

The bill comes as part of ongoing talks between the White House and Senate Republicans over their competing infrastructure plans this week.

The bill, unveiled on Wednesday, represents a potential third infrastructure funding option that is narrower than either the White House or the Senate Republicans’ plan.

“Our bill focuses on the core infrastructure that helps move people and goods through our communities every day, reduce bureaucracy that hinders project construction, and bring resources into the hands of our states and locals, with as few conditions as possible be knotted. ” said Rep. Sam Graves of Missouri, senior member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and the main sponsor of the bill.

Contrary to the proposals of the Republicans of the White House and the Senate, Graves’ bill does not exist as a separate piece of legislation. Rather, it is a re-authorization of the current five-year transport finance bill, which expires on September 30th.

Graves’ legislation, known as the Surface Transportation Advanced Through Reform, Technology & Efficient Review Act, or STARTER Act, would add a third, or about $ 100 billion, to land transportation projects.

However, it would not address some of the other elements of infrastructure that the stand-alone plans of both Senate Democrats and Republicans refer to, such as broadband, mass transit, water projects, and airports.

In addition, Biden’s plan would include billions more to fund research and development, schools, and charging stations for electric vehicles.

The House Republicans’ plan is also to spend much less than Biden’s proposal, the US $ 2.3 trillion employment plan, or the Senate Republican counteroffer which is roughly $ 570 billion.

“As the process of reviewing infrastructure legislation progresses, I look forward to seeing these proposals become part of a solid bipartisan effort – as the president continues to urge,” said Graves.

Biden has said he wants to reach a compromise deal with the Republicans on infrastructure. To do this, he appears ready to bundle the “hard infrastructure” elements of his American employment plan into a separate bill, if that means it could be passed with the support of both parties.

But Republicans have resisted Biden’s infrastructure plan, deciphering both its price and the proposed increase in the corporate tax rate Biden would pay for it.

The GOP counter-offer plan would be limited to hard infrastructure and pay for a mix of usage fees, misappropriated coronavirus aid funds, and public-private partnerships.

After meeting with Biden last week, a small group of Republican Senators met with White House negotiators on Tuesday to continue working on a bipartisan infrastructure deal.

A White House spokesman later said Biden’s team had been “encouraged” by the talks and that the White House would be in touch with the senators later this week.

Republicans also said the closed session was productive. “We talked about how to get into some nontraditional revenue streams,” said Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, who attended the talks. “How to do things like public-private partnerships, maybe some [vehicle] kilometers traveled and a type of vehicle charge for electric vehicles. “

The question of how electric vehicles can be included in traditional infrastructure financing turned out to be an unexpected sticking point in the talks this week.

Republicans insist that every bipartisan bill includes a tax or fee for electric vehicle drivers who do not pay the gas taxes that fund the Federal Highway Trust Fund.

However, Democrats insist that any final bill includes money to install hundreds of thousands of new EV charging stations across the country.

Biden spent Tuesday at a Ford Motors electric vehicle manufacturing facility in Michigan, the day before Ford officially launched its first all-electric F-150 pickup truck. The rollout marked a milestone in an effort to make electric vehicles more attractive to US consumers, who typically prefer larger cars than buyers in Europe and Asia.

Biden used the trip to announce the American employment plan.

“The American Jobs Plan is a blueprint for rebuilding America,” he said. “And we need automakers and other companies to keep investing here in America and not take advantage of our public investments and expand production of electric vehicles and batteries overseas.”