Progressives, activists are resorting to an infrastructure reconciliation law to, well, save everything
House of Transport and Infrastructure Chairman Peter DeFazio reiterates the frustration at the requirement for more and bigger roads in this legislation instead of a huge investment in transit and electric vehicles and passenger rail, along with less investment in road maintenance and repair. "We have … states that just want to pave the whole country, and it doesn't work," he said. "We've built about 30,000 lane miles in our 100 largest cities, and guess what? We have more traffic jams than ever. That's called induced demand on these options." This requires funding for these options.
The bipartisan bill won't allow this, so climate activists are pinning their hopes – and lobbying – on the $ 3.5 trillion budget balancing bill that the Democrats are working on. For example, the BlueGreen Alliance of environmentalists and labor groups highlights the shortcomings of the bipartisan bill and $ 0 in funding for the country's schools, which are contributing over $ 270 billion in deferred maintenance. They also highlight a report from E2 Environmental Entrepreneurs on lead pipes.
The bipartisan bill puts $ 15 billion into a revolving fund for water utilities to replace lead pipes, but only if they want to. You will not be obliged to do so. That $ 15 Billion Would Replace Just 25% of Lead Pipes in the US E2 estimates that the full $ 45 billion Biden initially requested would “create and support 56,080 jobs annually for 10 years, or 560,800 man years in total . This annual estimate includes 26,900 direct jobs – construction workers, plumbers, pipe fitters, heavy machinery operators – as a direct result of this activity. Another 13,600 10 year jobs will be created along the entire value chain, and 13,800 jobs will be created each year for 10 years as one Score from workers who spend their paychecks. "
Other priorities, including public transportation (even from the original deal Biden made with the gang), rail, clean electricity standards and carbon prices are either cut drastically from Biden's original proposal or omitted altogether. So it is a full press of progressives to include these provisions in the Atonement Act, or to keep them out of the ExxonMobil wing of the Senate.
“We have to attack climate change directly. I am deeply concerned that even the two bills are not enough, ”Senator Elizabeth Warren told Roll Call. "But they're not fully baked yet, and more may be added." Matthew Davis, Senior Director of Government Affairs for the League of Conservation Voters, agrees with both concern and hope. "There is still time for the reconciliation package," said Davis. "I don't think at all that the moment is slipping on the climate."
As long as the Democrats in the House of Representatives hold firm that they will not vote for the bipartisan law until they also have a law of reconciliation that meets their demands, that hope is not unfounded. It also remains entirely possible that the bipartisan bill will fall apart. Republicans continue to play games of timing, amendments, and their last possible vote.
For example, John Thune, the number 2 of Senator Mitch McConnell:
John Thune told me that Rs have not yet decided whether they will agree to break off the debate on Saturday and bring the infrastructure bill to the final vote. He said it would depend on "everyone feels they have voted on amendments," noting that GOP leaders would take the temperature of the conference
– Manu Raju (@mkraju) August 4, 2021
So far there has been no agreement on complete changes or the timing. Many senators will be on their way to the funeral of their former colleague Mike Enzi from Wyoming on Friday. Presumably these negotiations between McConnell and Schumer are continuing, and presumably McConnell is doing nothing to help.