Infrastructure

Explainer

Can President Biden, Republicans make a deal on an infrastructure bill?

By Jimmie Johnson (Reporter), Annie Andersen (Producer), Chris Reilly (Editor)

President Joe Biden and Republican lawmakers have failed to reach an agreement on an infrastructure bill. The latest negotiations beg the question: What is infrastructure?

JIMMIE JOHNSON: AIRPORTS, BRIDGES, ROADS.

INFRASTRUCTURE IS GENERALLY AN ISSUE REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRATS AGREE ON. AFTER ALL, POTHOLES ARE PRETTY MUCH UNIVERSALLY DESPISED. 

SO WHEN THEN-CANDIDATE BIDEN CAMPAIGNED ON INFRASTRUCTURE, MANY INSIDE WASHINGTON THOUGHT THIS COULD BE THE BIPARTISAN BILL CONGRESS NEEDED.

NOW THAT HIS AMERICAN JOBS PLAN HAS BEEN UNVEILED, THAT ISN’T THE CASE. 

HERE’S WHY: TRADITIONALLY, INFRASTRUCTURE BILLS DEAL WITH TRANSPORTATION-RELATED INFRASTRUCTURE… FIXING ROADS, BRIDGES UPDATING PORTS, AND AIRPORTS. 

AND THAT’S WHAT REPUBLICANS SAY THEY WANT AN INFRASTRUCTURE BILL TO ADDRESS.

SENATOR PAT TOOMEY, REPUBLICAN FROM PENNSYLVANIA: We want to focus on actual infrastructure. the platforms and services that move people and goods and services through our economy. that’s what people understand to be infrastructure.

JIMMIE: BUT PRESIDENT BIDEN SAYS INFRASTRUCTURE INCLUDES MORE THAN JUST TRADITIONAL INFRASTRUCTURE.

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Highways weren’t “traditional” infrastructure until we allowed ourselves to imagine that roads could connect our nation across state lines. The idea of infrastructure has always evolved to meet the aspirations of the American people and their needs.

JIMMIE: REPUBLICANS LIKE MISSOURI’S SENATOR ROY BLUNT AGREE. INFRASTRUCTURE HAS CHANGED, AT LEAST SOMEWHAT.

BLUNT: Broadband would not have met the early Congressional definition of infrastructure, of course, or even the definition 40 years ago, but it fits well within the connectedness aspect of what Americans think infrastructure should be.

JIMMIE: BIDEN ARGUES THAT EVOLUTION HAS GONE EVEN FURTHER.

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Ask the moms and dads in the “sandwich generation” — the folks carrying enormous personal and financial strains trying to raise their children and care for their parents — their elderly parents or members of their families with a disability.  Ask them what sort of infrastructure they need to build a little better life, to be able to breathe a little bit.

JIMMIE: AND THOSE NON-PHYSICAL INVESTMENTS ARE PART OF WHERE BIDEN LOSES REPUBLICAN SUPPORT.  

DURING AN INTERVIEW WITH FOX NEWS ABOUT THE INITIAL 2.25 TRILLION DOLLAR PLAN… BLUNT SAID EVEN IF YOU  “STRETCH THE DEFINITION OF INFRASTRUCTURE,” BIDEN’S PLAN GOES TOO FAR.

BLUNT: Roads and bridges and ports and airports and maybe even underground water systems and broadband, you’d still be talking about less than 30 percent of this entire package”

PRESIDENT BIDEN: I’m prepared to work.  I really am.  But to automatically say that the only thing that infrastructure is a highway, a bridge, or whatever — that’s just not rational.

JIMMIE: NEGOTIATIONS ARE STILL UNDERWAY BUT THE BIG QUESTION IS, WILL THE AMERICAN JOBS PLAN BE A MORE TRADITIONAL INFRASTRUCTURE PACKAGE OR WILL IT BE THE WAY THE PRESIDENT SEES INFRASTRUCTURE?  

LET ME KNOW YOUR THOUGHTS ON THIS PLAN AND MAKE SURE TO RATE THIS REPORT USING OUR BIAS METER. 

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