White House prepares massive infrastructure bill with universal pre-k, free community college, climate measures – The Washington Post

That effort is expected to be broken into two parts — one focused on infrastructure, and the other focused on other domestic priorities, such as universal prekindergarten, national child care, and free community college tuition. Many details of the plan were first reported by the New York Times. The people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations, stressed planning was preliminary and subject to change. Some aides stressed that the final price tag of the package remained unclear.

The sprawling package, although still in the works, follows weeks of uncertainty about Biden’s second big legislative effort following the relief package. Crucial decisions still have to be made about how the administration seeks to advance the measure. Congressional Republicans are unlikely to support trillions more in additional spending or the tax hikes that the White House is eyeing to fund these initiatives.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement that the administration had not decided on its next step. “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,” Psaki said. “Those conversations are ongoing, so any speculation about future economic proposals is premature and not a reflection of the White House’s thinking.”

The infrastructure part of the plan includes hundreds of billions of dollars for repairing the nation’s roads, bridges, waterways and rails. It also includes funding for retrofitting buildings, safety improvements, schools infrastructure, and low-income and tribal groups, as well as $100 billion for schools and education infrastructure.

The infrastructure component of the proposal includes $400 billion in spending to combat climate change, including $60 billion for infrastructure related to green transit and $46 billion for climate-related research and development. The plan also would aim to make electric-vehicle charging stations available across the country. The measure would also include $200 billion for housing infrastructure, including $100 billion to expand the supply of housing for low-income Americans.

The second component of the effort would include many of Biden’s other domestic priorities. Those include universal prekindergarten and free community college tuition. The package would also dramatically expand spending on child care. The measure would also extend for several years the expansion of the Child Tax Credit recently signed into law for just one year as part of the $1.9 trillion stimulus plan.

The legislation would also include extending subsidies for the Affordable Care Act, as well as free and reduced tuition at Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Biden is also expected to be presented with a menu of tax options by Treasury officials to fund the plan. Biden campaigned on raising the corporate tax rate from 21 percent to 28 percent, as well as increasing taxes on wealthy investors. It was not immediately clear which of his tax plans would be included in the final legislation.

“Anybody making more than $400,000 will see a small to a significant tax increase,” Biden said last week on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

White House officials are also planning to include a measure to force pharmaceutical companies to lower their prices or pay a steep penalty. The White House’s efforts are likely to be similar to the prescription drug bill unveiled by House Democrats in 2019, which aimed to respond to voter frustration over the rising costs of prescription drugs across the country, the people aware of the internal discussions said.

The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that House Democrats’ bill would save the government approximately $450 billion over the next decade. By lowering the cost of prescription drugs, the government would spend significantly less on Medicare and other public health programs.

The emerging proposal comes amid an extensive debate among Democratic policymakers about the next steps for the Biden administration. Democrats’ left-flank is clamoring for the party to use its rare hold on power in Washington to approve long-held policy goals, from an expansion of health care to action on climate change. Democrats’ centrist wing, however, has expressed repeated unease about the party-line vote over pandemic relief, and has pushed for a return to bipartisan policymaking. That could complicate passage, particularly through the Senate, of any major Biden infrastructure package.

Seung Min Kim contributed reporting to this story.