Politics

White House considers splitting $3 trillion recovery plan into two bills

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Key Points
  • The Biden administration is considering $3 trillion in spending on improving infrastructure, fighting climate change and reducing economic inequities.
  • The White House is considering splitting the mammoth initiative into two bills, though Republican support for either plank could be hard to secure as Biden aims to increase taxes on corporations and the wealthiest Americans.
  • Biden and Democrats aim to move toward a broader plan to bolster the economy after approving a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package this month.
President Joe Biden speaks to members of the press on the South Lawn upon returning to the White House after a trip to Camp David, in Washington, March 21, 2021.
Erin Scott | Reuters

The White House will consider various options to pass an estimated $3 trillion economic recovery proposal, including splitting it into two bills, NBC News reported Monday.

The New York Times first reported the potential for the Biden administration to craft two separate proposals.

President Joe Biden aims to inject more money into the economy after this month's passage of his top priority, a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package. His administration and congressional Democrats hope to revamp the country's infrastructure, combat climate change and jolt an improving U.S. economy.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said earlier Monday that Biden had not decided how to proceed. In a statement to NBC News, she said, "President Biden and his team are considering a range of potential options for how to invest in working families and reform our tax code so it rewards work, not wealth."

"Those conversations are ongoing, so any speculation about future economic proposals is premature and not a reflection of the White House's thinking," she said.

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The Times reported that the president's advisors will bring him a plan as soon as this week that would divide the recovery proposal into two planks. One would put money into boosting manufacturing, improving transportation systems, expanding broadband access and reducing carbon emissions, according to the newspaper.

The other would focus on reducing economic inequities through investments in paid leave, universal pre-K and community college, the report said. The administration is leaning toward pursuing a bipartisan infrastructure bill first, then trying to pass larger pieces of the economic package through budget reconciliation, which would only require Democratic votes in the Senate, according to NBC.

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It is unclear now whether Republicans would back either piece of Biden's recovery plan. The GOP has generally opposed the president's proposals to hike takes on corporations and the wealthiest Americans to pay for the initiatives.

The Dow Jones Industrial average closed up more than 100 points Monday after the Times report. The reported price tag for Biden's plan is bigger than what most Wall Street firms including Goldman Sachs expected, as most saw a roughly $2 trillion infrastructure package. Shares of Caterpillar ended modestly higher.

Spokespeople for the White House, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., did not immediately respond to requests to comment.

Though politicians on both sides of the political aisle agree that U.S. infrastructure needs repair, they have not come to a consensus over which items to pay for and how best to finance the massive undertaking.

Some moderates, including conservative Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, have made it clear they will only vote for a plan that makes a genuine attempt at bipartisanship and is nearly entirely paid for. Democrats approved the pandemic aid package on their own through budget reconciliation, and some members of the caucus have supported using the process to pass an infrastructure plan.

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Biden met with bipartisan senators about infrastructure earlier this month. A group of 20 senators from both parties also reportedly met last week about how to proceed on the next major policy initiative in Congress.

During his presidential campaign, Biden said he would be open to raising taxes to pay for various agenda items. At the time, he supported increasing the corporate tax rate to 28% in what would amount to a partial rollback of President Donald Trump's landmark 2017 tax cuts.

Biden has also endorsed increasing the top marginal tax rate to 39.6% and taxing capital gains and dividends at the higher ordinary income tax rate.

Read the full Times report here.

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