The U.S. Senate approved the bipartisan version of President Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill. The plan, which is less grandiose than the original proposal, moves to the House of Representatives where both parties are likely to try to make changes.
The key piece of the plan garnering the attention of automakers is the funding related to electric vehicles, specially the $7.5 billion set out for expansion of the EV charging network in the U.S. Biden originally asked for $15 billion, but it was cut in half during the talks between the two sides.
The legislation passed 69-30, with 19 Republicans signing on, which is better than the vote that got to the floor for a vote. According to Reuters, polls show the vast majority Americans favor the plan. However, the spirit of cooperation that got the appropriation through the Senate is unlikely to be found in the House.
The bill moves to the House where it’s already encountering a bottle neck from House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi. She said she wouldn’t put the current proposal out for a full vote until both plans have been hashed out. Both plans?
A group of 28 Democrats are pushing a much larger, more comprehensive plan with a much larger price tag: $3.5 trillion. This plan includes several new measures or substantially more funding for what’s in the plan that just passed, such as $85 billion to expand the country’s charging network as well as energy generating facilities.
House Transportation Chairman Peter DeFazio, one of the House members calling for the funds, said, “a rapid and extensive build-out of electric vehicle charging infrastructure supported by the federal government is crucial if consumers are to adopt zero emission vehicles at the scale and pace needed to stave off climate catastrophe.”
That bill also has to get through the Senate first, where Mitch McConnell, the minority leader, said he plans to fight against it, calling it “radical” and suggesting it would create a massive tax increase and a “permanent welfare state.”
The difference between $1 trillion and $3.5 trillion
The smaller bill is more limited in scope, focused much more on what some call “conventional” infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, etc. It also looks to fund electric school buses and aid in the development of the zero-emission vehicle production.
It also funds efforts to eliminate the lead pipes used to deliver drinking water for 10 million people across the country, including to 400,000-plus schools and childcare facilities.
The larger bill takes an expanded view of infrastructure with funding for childcare, carbon emissions reductions, forest fire mitigation, investments in public housing and more. It also increases the spending on some of the efforts already in the smaller bill.