Senate Democrats this week advanced an amended, $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package that is expected to pass on a party-line vote – then sent back to the House for final passage before current unemployment benefits expire March 14. (Politico, March 4 and Congress.gov, actions on H.R. 1319)
- President Biden, who has championed the COVID-19 legislation, agreed to changes in the package such as restrictions on the use of $350 billion in state and local funding to solidify Democratic support in the 50-50 Senate. (BGov, March 4 and text of the amended Senate bill)
- CQ reported that financial allocations changes for states and local governments require federal assistance be used for specific purposes, including:
- Aid to households, small businesses or nonprofits, or aid to "impacted" industries like tourism, hospitality and travel;
- Funding government services that reduced due to the pandemic-related hit to tax revenue;
- "Necessary investments" in water, sewer, or broadband infrastructure.
- Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said yesterday, "No matter how long it takes, the Senate is going to stay in session to finish the bill, this week.” (Politico, March 4).
- Meanwhile, the White House push for a massive infrastructure bill was discussed on March 4 in a meeting with President Biden, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and a bipartisan group of House members led by Rep. Peter A. DeFazio (D-OR), chairman of the House Transportation Committee. (Bloomberg, March 4)
- Biden remarked at the start of the meeting, “We’re going to talk about infrastructure and American competitiveness and what we’re going to do to make sure that we once again lead the world across the board on infrastructure. It not only creates jobs but it makes us a helluva lot more competitive around the world.” (White House, March 4)
- The White House infrastructure plan is expected to emphasize climate change, but legislation has not been unveiled nor has its cost or methods to pay for the initiative. (Wall Street Journal, March 4)
- The critical need for investing in modern and sustainable infrastructure was also the focus of a Feb. 11 White House meeting between Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, Buttigieg and a bipartisan group of senators from the Environment and Public Works Committee. (Roundtable Weekly, Feb. 12)
- In a December 16, 2020 letter, The Roundtable and 12 national real estate organizations provided detailed recommendationsto then President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris that included infrastructure funding and modernization as engines to drive recovery and job growth from the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Roundtable is part of Build by the 4th coalition led by U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which encourages the Biden Administration and the new Congress to pass a comprehensive infrastructure deal by Independence Day 2021.
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