House Democrats call for $760 billion in infrastructure spending

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House Democrats have unveiled a five-year, $760 billion infrastructure proposal focused on roads, transit, broadband internet networks, harbors, airports and water systems across the country.

Moving America and the Environment Forward: Funding Our Roads, Transit, Rail, Aviation, Broadband, Wastewater and Drinking Water Infrastructure is a 19-page “framework” recommends funneling money through many existing federal programs and investing in projects that are environmentally friendly and “resilient” to the effects of climate change.

“We are hoping that we will have the support of the Republicans and the president,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said at a press conference.

U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, an Oregon Democrat who chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, charged that the nation has been “living off the legacy” of infrastructure built in the Eisenhower era. “It’s falling apart,” he said. “It needs to be rebuilt.”

Highlights in the plan include:

  • $434 billion for highway and transit programs over a five-year timeframe, including $319 billion for roads, $105 billion for transit and $10 billion for safety initiatives.
  • Expanding passenger rail is another transportation priority that the framework identifies.
  • $50 billion for sewer, stormwater and other water infrastructure through existing programs like the Clean Water State Revolving Fund. It would devote about $25 billion to drinking water programs as well.
  • New Environmental Protection Agency program to help local governments detect and treat water pollution from industrial chemicals known as PFAS, while providing about $1 billion to help communities dealing with contamination issues.

Some of the proposed spending could be supported by other existing taxes and fees. For instance, DeFazio alluded to the possibility of raising an airport “passenger facility charge” that has not gone up since 2001.

As a point of reference, federal spending in the current 2020 fiscal year is expected to be around $4.6 trillion.

The framework says America’s infrastructure is in crisis.

“For decades we have relied on a 1950s-era transportation system that has failed to keep pace with our economy, our communities, and our changing climate. And in 2020, what do we have to show for it?” the report asks.

“Roads and highways that are in poor condition, badly congested, and accelerating carbon pollution; rail and transit systems that are often unreliable and inefficient; bridges that are structurally deficient and putting communities at risk; airports that can’t keep up with growing passenger demand; ports and harbors that are incapable of accommodating the demands of commercial shipping due to lack of dredging; aging drinking and wastewater infrastructure that has left entire communities without drinking water and put rivers and streams at risk of contamination; and wide swaths of the U.S. population without access to highspeed internet, which has become a necessity for schools, homes, and businesses.”

View the entire report here.


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