President Joe Biden has sought to sell his American Jobs Plan as an infrastructure bill that would revitalize American roads and bridges, but the multi-trillion-dollar plan also funds tearing down some highways.
The bill, which still has no clear path through Congress, costs roughly $2.3 trillion and includes hundreds of billions in funding for projects that Republicans argue have little to do with infrastructure. Biden and Democrats have sought to expand the definition of infrastructure — which polls well with Americans —beyond simply roads and bridges. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: ‘It’s All A Marketing Game’: Cruz Torches Democrats’ Infrastructure Bill Spending)
At least 11 cities across the country, including Austin, Texas, Baltimore, Maryland and Detroit, Michigan, are seeking federal funding from the bill to remove highways, however. Democrats argue the highways in question “had a damaging effect on urban minority communities,” according to The Wall Street Journal.
Many of the highways were built under former President Dwight Eisenhower. Activists claim that they cut through African-American communities, and caused divisions still present today. Biden’s plan seeks to allocate $20 billion for a fund to “reconnect” these communities by removing the downtown highways. (RELATED: Schumer Meets With Democrats About Passing Key Infrastructure Priorities On A Party-Line Vote)
The jobs plan has been bogged down in negotiations between Republicans and the White House, however, and there is no end in sight. Biden announced in late May that he is willing to split his jobs plan into two packages, which could allow the infrastructure portion to pass more easily.
But the smaller infrastructure package may face the same issue, as Democrats, like Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, are seeking to include Medicare expansions in the bill, which falls well outside the traditional definition of infrastructure.
Schumer and other Democrats have expressed impatience while negotiating with Republicans, arguing for an end to the filibuster to allow a party-line 51-50 vote to pass the legislation. Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona stand in the way of that effort, however.