Senate Democrats Release Their Own Infrastructure Proposal

On March 7, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) released the Democrats’ trillion dollar counterproposal to the Administration’s wide-ranging infrastructure plan.  Titled Senate Democrats’ Jobs & Infrastructure Plan for America’s Workers, the 37 page document describes how they would proceed to solve the Nation’s infrastructure woes.

The report states, The Senate Democrats’ Jobs and Infrastructure Plan would make a historic $1 trillion federal investment to modernize our crumbling infrastructure and create more than 15 million good-paying jobs that American families desperately need.  The report’s introduction goes on to say, In order to pay for this historic level of investment, we will repurpose some federal revenues spent in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 that benefited only wealthy individuals and corporations. Specifically, the proposal returns income and estate taxes on high-income earners and the wealthy to 2017 law. It also closes the carried interest loophole and modestly increases the corporate tax rate from 21 to 25 percent.

To read the full report, click here.   The report includes a three-part approach for water and wastewater infrastructure that builds on the existing SRF programs:

A.  Funding Proposal: We will provide $92 billion to Modernize Water & Sewer Infrastructure, by providing $46 billion dollars in addition to current fiscal year 2018 funding for drinking water and $46 billion for wastewater programs at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA water and wastewater funding will be distributed using the following criteria:

  1. States will receive the additional funding through the existing SRF formula program. States must spend at least 50% of these additional funds as grants but will be given the flexibility to spend as much as 100% of the funds as grants if they chose to do so.
  2. Funds must be spent first on disadvantaged communities such as Flint; second on Indian Tribes, and third on general infrastructure improvements and expansions (including resilience, lead testing, and other compliance related issues). Any money the state chooses to award in loans will be repaid under the same terms of the existing state revolving funds and will stay with the state when repaid. This will unlock thousands of new water and sewer infrastructure projects without burdening local ratepayers.
  3. For the new funds provided under the plan, Senate Democrats propose eliminating the local matching funds required of states and local governments. Many of these communities simply cannot afford to take on more debt. By removing the match for these additional funds, we mitigate future emergency funding needs by helping all communities address their most pressing concerns now.

B.  Funding Proposal: We will provide $23 billion dollars for water infrastructure through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Water and Waste Water Grant Program, which provides funding for such projects in small towns and rural communities under 10,000 in population. As has been previously, including in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), these funds will be provided in a way that ensures they lead to the creation of good paying middle class jobs.

C.  Policy Proposal: We will enact bipartisan Integrated Planning legislation to help communities’ better advance water and sewer projects in an effective manner. By taking this important step we can help support more comprehensive and sustainable solutions, and further advance projects that improve water quality, including green infrastructure.

In a separate section, the report also addresses expansion of Buy America provisions to affect all Federally financed infrastructure projects; expansion of covered items (not just iron and steel) to include non-ferrous metals, plastic and polymer based products, concrete and other aggregates, glass, lumber and drywall.  The section also calls for public disclosure of all waivers.