Week Ending May 21, 2021

Over the next few weeks, this report will provide a deeper dive into infrastructure details.

Please tell us what you would like to know about the proposed package.

  • White House and Congressional Action
    • Infrastructure Negotiations Continue; Surface Transportation Nearing Committee Action in June
    • President Biden to Sign COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act
  • New Bills
    • Public Health Workforce Loan Repayment Act of 2021

Infrastructure Negotiations Continue; Surface Transportation Nearing Committee Action in June

As the economy heals and interest rates remain low, President Joe Biden is continuing his push to address longer-term economic challenges to ensure sustainable growth for decades to come. Bipartisan negotiations continue on his $4 trillion American Jobs and Families Plans. Partisan disagreements remain over the size of the package, revenues, clean-energy policies and the inclusion of policies to address the caregiving crisis.

Sixty House Democrats, led by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (Wash.), urged their leadership to recognize that physical and human infrastructure needs are inextricably linked. People – especially women and people of color who have suffered disproportionate job losses during this recession – cannot get back to work without childcare, long-term care, paid leave, or investments in education and job retraining. This human infrastructure cannot be secondary to the physical infrastructure needs or languish under Republican obstructionism," they said in a letter.

Senate Republicans have proposed smaller investments in fewer areas, focusing on "traditional" infrastructure. Their $569 billion plan includes $299 billion for roads and bridges, $61 billion for public transit, $20 billion for rail, $35 billion for drinking water and wastewater, $13 billion for safety, $17 billion for ports and waterways, $44 billion for airports, $65 billion for broadband and $14 billion for water storage. House Republicans released their own package, seeking $400 billion limited only to highways and transit, and tripling the opportunity for private operators to take over public projects.

AFSCME continues to urge Congress to seize the historic opportunity to address both physical and human infrastructure needs. AFSCME's priorities in the so-called "traditional infrastructure" space include:

  • $530 billion for roads and bridges,
  • $105 billion for transit,
  • $135 billion for school and library infrastructure,
  • $80 billion for public housing,
  • $56 billion for drinking and wastewater programs, and
  • $45 billion for making school and transit buses more environmentally friendly.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) are preparing a five-year extension of surface transportation programs in the coming weeks as infrastructure moves on dual tracks for a traditional, bipartisan bill and a broader bill that will likely move via the special budget procedure of reconciliation.

President Biden to Sign COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act

The House passed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act (S. 936) (364 to 62) and Biden signed it into law. AFSCME President Lee Saunders stated: "This bill is a big step forward, but we must continue to do our part and redouble our commitment to stand together, keep each other safe and to seek justice for those who have been victimized and continue to live in fear."

Public Health Workforce Loan Repayment Act of 2021

Rep. Jason Crow (D-Colo.) introduced the Public Health Workforce Loan Repayment Act of 2021 (H.R. 3297) to help state and local health departments address years of understaffing and fill vacancies by creating a loan repayment program targeting the public health workforce.

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