June 21, 2021

MSCI Joins U.S. Chamber, No Labels To Call For Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill

The Metals Service Center Institute joined the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Gov. Larry Hogan (R-Md.) and former Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.), who are national co-chairs of the bipartisan organization No Labels, to issue an urgent statement calling for bipartisan infrastructure legislation.

The statement, available here, noted President Joe Biden has said he wants a bipartisan deal. (Specifically, the president said there is no such thing as “Republican bridges, Democratic airports, Republican hospitals, or a Democratic power grid.”)

The statement also said MSCI, No Labels, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce:

  • Support the continuance of bipartisan negotiations, built on the progress embodied in these bipartisan proposals, targeted to the nation’s needs.
  • Do not support a move to consider an infrastructure bill under the Senate budget reconciliation process, which would almost certainly foreclose the possibility of a bipartisan deal.

Unfortunately, it is still unclear whether Washington lawmakers will take a bipartisan path toward infrastructure investment. As Connecting the Dots reported last week, a bipartisan group of senators had reached a tentative deal that would spend $1.2 trillion over eight years on U.S. infrastructure without raising taxes.

By the middle of last week, more than one-fifth of the chamber — 21 senators — had agreed to the outline. After a week of continued discussions and negotiations, more information also has emerged about what is in the deal, particularly when it comes to how the measure will be financed. Because the group has rejected the idea of paying for new infrastructure spending with broad-based tax increases, it is considering several alternative revenue-raising mechanisms.

According to Politico these options include:

  • Creating an infrastructure financing authority to leverage private investment;
  • Establishing public-private partnerships, private activity bonds, and asset recycling;
  • Allowing direct-pay municipal bonds for infrastructure investment;
  • Cracking down on tax cheats;
  • Redirecting unused unemployment relief funds;
  • Repurposing unused COVID-19 relief funds;
  • Expanding eligible uses of state and local COVID-19 relief funds;
  • Allowing the use of toll credit balances for infrastructure;
  • Establishing an annual surcharge on electric vehicles;
  • Indexing the gas tax to inflation; and
  • Adjusting customs user fees.

The Washington Post reported that some Democrats are opposed to these financing proposals. Additionally, according to several other news sources, another group of U.S. Senate Democrats is contemplating a strategy that would allow them to use budget reconciliation rules to bypass the filibuster and pass infrastructure legislation with a bare majority.

Politico reported that this group is “weighing spending as much as $6 trillion on their own infrastructure package if the chamber’s bipartisan talks fail.” About half of that plan would be paid for by tax increases while the rest would be financed through deficit spending.

As a reminder: without Republican votes, Senate Democrats need the support of their entire caucus to pass an infrastructure bill. A key Democrat, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, has so far indicated that he is unlikely to support legislation that is not bipartisan. Read more here.

To help advance an infrastructure spending package, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has created state-specific template letters to tell Congress to work with their colleagues in both the House and Senate to finalize an infrastructure bill this summer. Click here to use these letters.

The National Association of Manufacturers also offers advocacy tools here.

Wondering if any legislation could become law this year? In a new article, the law firm Venable offers four paths that a major infrastructure package could take through Congress in the coming months. Finally, remember to continue to check out MSCI’s www.build-now.org for the latest information and insight about why it’s time to “build now” in North America.