Biden bets on infrastructure plan to achieve environmental agenda, faces political hurdle – 20/03/2021 – Worldwide

Following the approval of the Pandemic Economic Relief Plan, Joe Biden refocused his efforts on his government’s next legislative priority: changes in U.S. infrastructure as a way to pave the way for the implementation of its environmental program.

Democrat vows to create millions of jobs with a trillion dollar plan to renovate bridges, roads, airports and expand the nation’s broadband network, while trying to achieve his energy ambitions clean and racial equity among Americans.

During the campaign, Biden submitted a proposal worth US $ 2 trillion (11 trillion reais) that would be earmarked for infrastructure, with job creation and means for the United States to reach. the goal of eliminating carbon emissions from the electricity sector by 2035..

In addition to the transport and sanitation reforms, the president wants to reposition the country’s automotive industry, with the increase in the number of charging stations for electric cars, and intends to expand the networks of sustainable housing and public transport, making them more accessible to the population. .

According to Aides, Biden’s plan in four years is to build a more modern and sustainable infrastructure network, based on clean energy, so that the United States can be globally competitive and withstand the impacts of climate change. .

America’s infrastructure is quite outdated, mainly in rural areas and in areas hardest hit by the crisis that has already killed more than 540,000 people and left more than 10 million unemployed.

Data released by the U.S. government in 2019 shows that approximately 230,000 bridges required major repairs or complete replacement in the United States, which means 37% of those buildings in the country.

According to the American Association of Road and Transportation Builders (ARTBA), which questioned the government, the amount needed for repairs was US $ 164 billion (900 billion reais).

Other studies show that more than 27 million Americans are served by water systems that violate health standards set by law. These failures are frequent in areas with more vulnerable populations, victims of underinvestment and underdevelopment.

At the end of February, the American Society of Civil Engineers rated the country’s infrastructure network with a “C minus” rating and said that at least $ 5.9 trillion ($ 32.4 trillion) R $) are expected to be invested in the sector over the next decade.

An infrastructure transformation plan usually arouses popular enthusiasm as it generates jobs and moves the economy, but Biden must have a hard time getting support in the details of the size of the package and how to do it. fund it, information that has not yet been released. by Casa White.

The intention was to present the plan shortly after the signing of the economic relief package, which took place last week, but the lack of consensus between Republicans and Democrats should cause the president to assess or even split the measures – which also require the approval of Congress.

The chairman of the House Transport and Infrastructure Committee, Democratic Representative Peter DeFazio met with Biden two weeks ago and said the president wanted to act “as soon as possible”.

“Biden wants you [o pacote de infraestrutura] being very tall and feeling that is the key to the stimulus package, ”DeFazio said.

A moderate politician with a conciliatory profile, Biden insists on the idea of ​​obtaining the support of the Republicans for his project, under the thesis that the reform of the roads and the expansion of the broadband network will make the country more competitive, in particular compared to China, rhetoric that pleases Donald Trump’s party.

“We will make sure that once again we lead the world in terms of infrastructure,” Biden repeated. “Not only does it create jobs, but it makes us much more competitive in the world.”

Democrat believes infrastructure may be the bridge to rebuilding relations with some opposition members, who have not given a single vote to approve the economic relief plan – Biden’s party, however, has a majority in the House and Senate and, as a result, he was able to support the plan.

White House aides, however, recognize that the significant focus on climate change and the environmental agenda could be a political hurdle, and that Biden will have to decide how far he can go with his ambitions to clean energy to gain Republican support.

DeFazio, for his part, has already suggested that the president present an ambitious package, without losing sight of the foundations of a more sustainable infrastructure, and that Congress can approve the plan through a special mechanism called “conciliation.” . The arrangement, used to advance economic relief, requires only a simple majority of 100 senators for measures affecting the budget, for example, and prevents opponents from obstructing the vote.

For approval of projects like these, 60 out of 100 senators are typically needed, which means winning at least 10 Republicans, who typically don’t support ideas about renewables or mitigating inequalities.

Trump’s co-religionists are already starting to wonder how Biden plans to pay for the plan. During the campaign, the Democrat said he could fund it by combining public-private partnerships with increased taxes on businesses and the wealthy, which the opposition says it strongly opposes.

Part of the Democratic Party fears that the disagreements could lead to a repeat of the failures in this area suffered by the Barack Obama administration, of which Biden was the vice. The former president has not endorsed a solid reform of the country’s infrastructure – which is also far from Trump’s policy.

In Obama’s case, however, Republicans had a majority in the House and withheld much of his government’s initiatives.

Analysts say one of Biden’s ways to move his agenda forward is to split the package into multiple projects, to try to get bipartisan support for the droppers, on road reform and broadband expansion. , at first, for example. The fear of the far left wing of Democrats is that, if this is the option, important clean energy measures will eventually lose ground and be ignored.

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