CHN: President Biden’s American Jobs Plan focuses on infrastructure and economic recovery
Following the March enactment of the American Rescue Plan Act, a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package that’s already helping Americans, President Biden released his American Jobs Plan, a “once-in-a-generation investment” in infrastructure and economic recovery. The $2.3 trillion package includes funding for both physical infrastructure and the human infrastructure that are necessary for economic growth.
The American Jobs Plan includes $621 billion for transportation infrastructure (including $85 billion for public transit), $100 billion for power infrastructure projects, and $300 billion for manufacturing and small businesses. Some of the key physical infrastructure components of the package include:
The plan includes $213 billion to build, preserve and retrofit more than 2 million homes through grants, formula funding, targeted tax credits and project-based rental assistance. This includes $40 billion to improve public housing, resources to support homeownership and weatherize homes, and resources to help address the growing cost of rent. The plan says it will extend affordable housing rental opportunities to underserved communities, including rural and tribal areas. While housing advocates say these are welcome steps, they argue that much more assistance is needed. Diane Yentel, Executive Director of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, testified before the House Financial Services Committee on April 14 that infrastructure legislation should include a major expansion of rental assistance for every eligible household; $70 billion to repair public housing; and an investment of $40 billion in the national Housing Trust Fund to build and preserve homes affordable to the lowest-income and most marginalized households.
Education and child care
The Biden Administration’s proposal includes $100 billion to build and upgrade public schools; $100 billion to build broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved rural areas, urban areas, and tribal lands; and $12 billion for community colleges, particularly for rural areas. It also calls for $25 billion to help upgrade and increase the supply of child care facilities, especially for infants and toddlers in high-need areas. Additionally, it calls for an expanded tax credit to encourage businesses to build child care facilities at places of work.
Drinking water safety
The proposal includes $111 billion for drinking water safety, including replacing lead pipes, in residences, schools, and child care centers in disadvantaged communities, U.S. territories, and tribal communities.
Redressing racial inequities
The package also includes $20 billion for new racial equity programs, including for a new program that will reconnect neighborhoods cut off by historic investments and ensure new projects increase opportunity, advance racial equity and environmental justice, and promote affordable access.
Some of the key human infrastructure components of the package include:
The plan calls for $100 billion in workforce development programs aimed at underserved groups, including youth. This includes wraparound services, income supports, counseling, and case management, including $40 billion for a new Dislocated Workers Program and sector-based training, a new subsidized jobs program, one to two million new registered apprenticeship slots, and programs for formerly incarcerated and justice-involved youth. The plan calls on Congress to eliminate the sub-minimum wage and pass the pro-union Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act. It also includes provisions related to protections for domestic workers, increased penalties when employers violate workplace safety and health rules, and gender-based pay discrimination. For more information, see this piece from the National Skills Coalition.
Health and justice
President Biden is calling on Congress to put $400 billion toward expanding access to quality, affordable home and community-based services (HCBS) under Medicaid for older adults, people with disabilities, and the people who care for them. His plan will also extend the longstanding Money Follows the Person program that supports innovations in the delivery of long-term care. Veterans’ Affairs facilities would receive $18 billion.
The release of the American Jobs Plan was accompanied by the President’s Made in America Tax Plan, which would help ensure corporations pay their fair share in taxes. It would increase the corporate income tax rate from 21 percent currently to 28 percent and would reduce the practice of U.S. corporations claiming international tax havens as their residences.
Reactions and next steps
CHN’s Executive Director Deborah Weinstein praised the American Jobs Plan, saying, “It increases our capacity to do vital work in making our water safe, housing more available and affordable, schools, hospitals and child care centers modernized, home care expanded for people with disabilities or aging, and our energy sources safe and renewable. It focuses help on low-income communities, territories, tribes and communities of color, and invests in training so members of these communities can take the jobs created.”
Advocates expect the Biden Administration will also soon release details of its American Families Plan, which is likely to include additional investments in health care coverage, early childhood education, paid leave provisions, an extension of the improvements to the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit included in the American Rescue Plan, and other needed investments.
Republicans have balked at the price tag and scope of Biden’s American Jobs Plan and at its goal of rolling back the 2017 GOP tax cuts to pay for it. Republican senators on April 14 said they would present a cheaper infrastructure plan with a total cost of $600-$800 billion.
It’s anticipated that Democratic leadership in Congress will again try to move one or both of the President’s plans using a process called reconciliation, which allows legislation in the Senate to proceed without the possibility of filibuster, a tactic intended to stymie legislation. Ending a filibuster takes 60 votes; without that tactic, reconciliation bills can pass with only a simple majority (51 votes in the Senate). Democrats could begin the reconciliation process by passing another budget resolution that directs committees to draft individual pieces of the package as early as May, though final passage of any package may not happen until the summer or fall. For more information about how reconciliation works, see this recorded webinar: Budget Strategy to Pass a COVID Bill in the Senate: Reconciliation 101.
For more information on the various parts of the American Jobs Plan and the Made in America Plan, see these pieces from CHN, the Economic Policy Institute, Americans for Tax Fairness, and the Washington Post. In addition, the Congressional Progressive Caucus put out its priorities for infrastructure legislation.