Biden's $2 Trillion Infrastructure Plan Popular With Public, But Convincing GOP Still A Longshot

President Joe Biden plan for a massive $2 trillion infrastructure proposal to fund road and bridge repairs, incentives for electric cars, water system and broadband upgrades, and several other Biden goals in an effort to combine infrastructure, the environment and jobs, could prove popular among the public but his administration is leaving time to try to woo skeptical lawmakers.

"These are high-value investments," a senior administration official told Newsweek. "We think these are investments that we, as a country, cannot afford not to make."

Infrastructure upgrades consistently poll well among the public. A Monmouth University poll released in January found 61 percent of the people surveyed rated transportation and infrastructure as "very important" or "extremely important." Similar polls also have found the issue to win high marks publicly, even if it's not the top pressing issue for many.

But the Biden official stressed that the president's flexible on parts of the package, as he works to build support among skeptical lawmakers. The Biden administration is hoping that the broad scope of the proposal, which would lead to improvements to crumbling roads and bridges in members districts and spur job creation, will help that effort, despite facing fierce resistance from Republicans in the first two months of his tenure.

Biden is scheduled to formally unveil his plan during an address in Pennsylvania on Wednesday. His White House team also gave members of Congress a preview ahead of his speech, to mixed reaction.

The administration's goal is to have the plan passed by the end of summer, with projects set to begin soon after.

The effort to drum up support could face pushback from lawmakers who are timid about corporate tax hikes, which Biden's proposing to help cover the costs of his eight-year environmental package. The tax portion of his proposal is called the "Made in America Tax Plan," with the administration hoping to stress that the proposal encourages job creation by incentivizing companies to stay in the U.S.

The proposal breakdown includes a call to modernize 20,000 miles of highways, roads and main-streets; eliminate all lead pipes from drinking water systems; caps on hundreds of thousands of orphan oil and gas wells and abandoned mines; updates to veterans' hospitals and federal buildings; and investments in communities vulnerable to flooding. It also calls for upgrades to ports, railways and airports, as well as investments in public transportation.

"Our hope is that the elements of this plan are where we've seen a lot of enthusiasm in the past," the official, who wasn't authorized to speak on the record ahead of Biden's public address, said. "There are issues that have broad support among the American people."

The proposal is seen as an economic stimulus that's similar to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that passed under then-President Barack Obama in 2009, during the economic downturn. The official said that the plan will lead to the creation of "millions" of jobs, without elaborating.

"We think there's a compelling economic rationale for moving forward on this," the official said.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Tuesday that the infrastructure package is "about making an investment in America—not just modernizing our roads or railways or bridges, but building an infrastructure of the future."

"The speech is really about his vision for creating jobs—good-paying union jobs, and really investing in the industries of the future," she said.

Biden is expected to propose a tax component on wealthier Americans to help pay for the plan.

"He thinks it's responsible, the responsible thing to do to propose a way to pay for that over time," Psaki said. "We can't afford not to invest in improving our infrastructure."

Psaki said the Biden administration will begin soliciting ideas from Democrats and Republicans in Congress to try to build support around the plan

"We know that 80 percent or more of people in this country—Democrats and Republicans—support investing in infrastructure," she said.

Biden has struggled to build a true bipartisan coalition in Congress for other priorities—including a nearly $2 trillion coronavirus relief package that narrowly passed on a party-line vote through a Senate procedural move that required only 50 votes for passage, instead of the higher 60 vote threshold. The same procedure likely could be used for Biden's infrastructure plan, but it illustrates the narrow path that Biden faces as he tries to move on his top priorities.

"We will begin and already have begun to do extensive outreach to our counterparts in Congress, Republicans and Democrats, to build on the plan," the senior official said. "This is the beginning of a process."

Joe Biden
U.S. President Joe Biden signs legislation in the Oval Office of the White House on March 30, 2021 in Washington, DC. Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images