WASHINGTON – Fresh off passage of the COVID-19 relief bill, President Joe Biden is assembling the next big White House priority, a sweeping $3 trillion package of investments on infrastructure and domestic needs.
Biden huddled privately late Monday with Senate Democrats as Congress has already begun laying the groundwork with legislation for developing roads, hospitals and green energy systems as part of Biden's “Build Back Better” campaign promise. Much like the $1.9 trillion virus rescue plan signed into law earlier this month, the new package would also include family-friendly policies, this time focusing on education and paid family leave.
The White House plans are still preliminary, with a combined $3 trillion in spending proposed to boost the economy and improve quality of life, according to a person familiar with the options who insisted on anonymity to discuss private conversations.
While the goal is a bipartisan package, Democrats in Congress have signaled a willingness to go it alone if they are blocked by Republicans.
“We need to get it done,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., ahead of the virtual meeting with Biden at the senators' annual retreat Monday evening.
Biden's outreach to Senate Democrats comes as the White House is under fire for its handling of the U.S.-Mexico border. Migrant crossings are skyrocketing, with images of cramped holding facilities posing a humanitarian and political dilemma for the administration and its allies in Congress. The focus on infrastructure shifts attention back toward priorities that are potentially more popular with Americans and potentially bipartisan.
An infrastructure package would include roughly $1 trillion for roads, bridges, rail lines, electrical vehicle charging stations and the cellular network, among other items. The goal would be to facilitate the shift to cleaner energy while improving economic competitiveness.
A second component would include investments in workers with free community college, universal pre-kindergarten and paid family leave.