The Biden Administration plans to move forward on its “Build Back Better” infrastructure initiative as the next legislative push to spur the economy after he signed the COVID-19 relief package yesterday. (CNBC, March 10 and New York Times, March 3)
Why It Matters
- A $312 billion bill was introduced yesterday by House Democrats on the Energy & Commerce (E&C) Committee that would invest in clean energy, drinking water, broadband, and health care infrastructure. LIFT America Act (text, section-by-section analysis, press release).
- House E&C Democrats last week introduced a sprawling climate change bill, the CLEAN Future Act, which includes provisions on building energy codes, energy benchmarking, and SEC public company reporting on climate risks. (Roundtable Weekly, March 5)
- More bills are forthcoming on matters addressing highways, mass transit and other surface transportation, as well as energy and infrastructure tax-related matters. In the House, these bills are expected from Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Richard Neal (D-MA), chairs of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Ways and Means Committee, respectively.
- How to pay for the price tag of these measures remains an overriding issue. Possible revenue sources for infrastructure investments were discussed by the White House with a bipartisan group of Senate leaders on Feb. 11, and House leaders on March 4. (Roundtable Weekly, Feb. 12 and Feb. 19, and Reuters, March 4)
Congressional Committees’ Influence
- Capitol Hill hearings this week focused on various aspects of low-carbon energy, climate-resilient infrastructure and transportation issues. (Axios, March 8, “Energy and climate move closer to center stage on Capitol Hill”) The House Energy Committee will start hearings next week on its CLEAN Future Act (E&C press release, March 11)
- Senate Energy Committee Chairman Joe Manchin (R-WV), above, told "Axios on HBO" that he will seek tax increases to pay for Biden's upcoming proposal, and will use his leadership position to pursue bipartisan solutions to climate realities.
- Manchin said the budget process called reconciliation should not be pursued to pass the climate and infrastructure package. Reconciliation was used to advance the pandemic relief bill without Republican support in the 50-50 Senate. (Axios, “Manchin’s Next Power Play,” March 8).
- Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman Tom Carper (D-DE) told Bloomberg this week that a transportation infrastructure package could move through his committee by the end of May and signed into law as part of a broader economic recovery plan by the end of September. (Bloomberg, March 10)
Michael Regan Confirmed as EPA Administrator
- Michael Regan was confirmed this week as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). He will apply his experience as North Carolina’s environmental chief to broad federal policies addressing climate change and energy efficiency. (E&E News and Reuters, March 10)
The Real Estate Roundtable, as part of the Build by the 4th coalition, is encouraging Congress to pass a comprehensive infrastructure package by Independence Day 2021. The Roundtable's Sustainability Policy Advisory Committee (SPAC) is also focused on climate and energy regulations on buildings emerging at the state and local level.
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