Capitol Corner July 2021

As Congress left for the July 4th week recess, infrastructure negotiations were continuing after President Biden and a group of 21 bipartisan Senators reached a compromise on a framework for an infrastructure package. The bipartisan group consisted of 11 Republicans, including both North Carolina Senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis, and 10 Democrats.

The infrastructure framework would provide $1.2 trillion in spending over 8 years, with $579 billion in new spending for the nation’s physical infrastructure assets, including all modes of transportation, water systems, water storage, power grids and broadband networks. Significant investments would also be made in improving the resiliency of these assets and remediating environmental contamination sites. The framework would be paid for, at least in part, through more than a dozen funding sources, led by strengthening the Internal Revenue Service to enforce tax collections. Notably it does not include any increases to taxes or transportation user fees.

Elements of the Senate’s surface transportation reauthorization that have been advanced by their respective committees of jurisdiction would become a part of the final package. The Senate-passed water resources bill, S. 914, the Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act of 2021, would also be included.

Despite reaching an agreement, Congress must still develop the remaining legislative text, and passage of the bipartisan framework is not guaranteed. The framework is already facing challenges in Congress that will have to be overcome, such as the demand for more investments in human infrastructure at the same time, before any infrastructure legislation can be signed into law. This is, however, a critical first step.    

Additionally, the House passed the INVEST in America Act, a $715 billion five-year surface transportation and water infrastructure bill. Although this bill has passed in the House, there are still ongoing negotiations and remaining questions about how this bill will advance and whether it will get packaged with other infrastructure legislation or the larger infrastructure framework agreed to as described above.