Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) speaks at a press conference to introduce infrastructure legislation, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on June 18, 2020. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo
June 4 (UPI) -- House Democrats released their version of an infrastructure plan on Friday that calls for spending $547 billion over the next five years.
Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, submitted a proposal to fix existing roads and bridges and make record investments in passenger rail, public transit and other zero-emission options.
President Joe Biden is scheduled on Friday afternoon to have another discussion with Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., about his $1.7 trillion infrastructure proposal.
Capito is leading negotiations for a group of Republicans seeking a compromise with Biden on an infrastructure package. She is expected to deliver a counteroffer during their meeting.
The two sides are sharply divided over how to pay for the proposal. The GOP is opposed to higher corporate taxes that Biden has proposed and the president has rejected a Republican plan to use unspent COVID-19 relief money.
Biden has offered to ditch his corporate tax hike as a concession to Republicans.
DeFazio's legislation would boost spending on roads and bridges by about 54% with an emphasis on fixing existing infrastructure, according to a fact sheet released by the Democratic House committee members.
The bill would spend about $343 billion for roads, bridges and roadway safety programs.
The legislation would dedicate $32 billion for bridge maintenance and repair. Another $4 billion would be spent to install electric vehicle charging stations.
The plan would make a record investment of $109 billion on public transit programs to increase routes, reduce transit maintenance backlog and provide more frequent service. Another $95 billion would be spent on passenger rail and freight systems, including funding for corridor planning and development of high-speed rail projects. Amtrak funding would be tripled under the proposal.
The plan also would seek to improve rail safety by addressing highway-rail grade crossing needs, along with adding additional rail safety inspectors.
Republican members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee were quick to criticize DeFazio's plan.
"Instead of working with Republicans to find common ground on a bill that could earn strong bipartisan support -- something our Senate counterparts did successfully last month -- this bill moves even further to the left to appease the most progressive members in the majority's party," the GOP congressional members said in a statement.