Adam S. Olsen- Washington, D.C.
March 22, 2021

The Senate will reconvene at 3 PM at which time Karen Gibson will be sworn in as Senate Sergeant at Arms.  The Senate will then resume consideration of Marty Walsh to be Secretary of Labor and vote on the nomination at 5:30 pm.  Later this evening President Biden will meet virtually with the Senate Democratic Caucus during their annual retreat

The House is out until Tuesday, April 13th for a committee work week this week, followed by two weeks of recess.  Today, the House Energy and Commerce Committee is holding a full committee legislative hearing on the LIFT America Act.  Chairman Pallone Memo and opening remarks.  The Leading Infrastructure For Tomorrow’s America Act, or LIFT America Act, backed by top House Democrats, was introduced last week and would authorize $80 billion for broadband expansion, $70 billion for clean energy infrastructure and energy efficiency measures, and $42 billion for electric vehicle infrastructure, including development of batteries and installation of charging stations, as well as improvements to ports.  The latest iteration of the bill features new measures on improving energy efficiency in federal buildings, boosting transit electrification and authorizing $20 billion for grid resiliency projects. The bill also would focus on increasing broadband access and removing lead piping from water infrastructure.  The bill directs in total $312 billion for infrastructure projects – notably $80 billion for high-speed broadband deployment for unserved and underserved areas nationwide. The bill also includes $15 billion for grants to fund the deployment and implementation of next generation 9-1-1 services, $5 billion for low-interest financing for broadband deployment and $9.3 billion for broadband affordability and adoption. The bill also allocates an additional $6 billion to the recently established Emergency Broadband Benefit Program and directs $2 billion for the E-Rate program.  Additional infrastructure projects are geared toward fighting the climate crisis with projects to build infrastructure for clean energy, energy efficiency, and drinking water. The other portion of the bill invests billions in healthcare infrastructure.  With the support of 31 Democratic cosponsors, the bill was introduced on March 11th and referred to eight committees including the House Energy and Commerce Committee.  Pallone introduced a similar LIFT America bill in 2019 and 2017.

As the House begins to take up infrastructure legislation, executives from Wall Street, major corporations and private equity firms are engaging with the White House and officials in the Transportation Department about how to pay for President Joe Biden’s eventual infrastructure bill.  The White House has yet to commit to a plan to fund an infrastructure overhaul.  Democrats and Republicans have already drawn battle lines over how to proceed with a bill. One of the debates in Congress is whether the legislation should go through a bipartisan legislative process or the more partisan reconciliation process, which requires only a simple majority in the Senate.

Adam S. Olsen, Washington, D.C.