U.S. Senate Democrats released a blueprint Jan. 24 for a $1 trillion infrastructure plan that in part would help upgrade the electric power grid, but the proposal needs buy-in from deficit-wary congressional Republicans and President Donald Trump.
The plan aims to create 15 million jobs over the next 10 years through projects to rebuild U.S. roads, bridges, water systems and other critical infrastructure. The plan would invest $100 billion in "21st century energy infrastructure," including upgrades to electric power transmission and distribution facilities.
"Our nation's infrastructure issues are vast, and they go well beyond just road and bridge repair," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said. "Senate Democrats have unveiled this blueprint because we need a wide-sweeping infrastructure plan — and we need it now."
Schumer at a press briefing said Democrats have not determined how they would fund the plan but explained that the proposal will not include tax credits for private developers — a key part of Trump's infrastructure plan. Like the president, Democrats want all infrastructure projects under their proposal to rely on domestic labor and raw materials.
"We hope the president will join us in supporting this blueprint to rebuild America's infrastructure and create 15 million jobs," Schumer said. He also said he hopes Trump will persuade Republicans in Congress to "get on board with the plan."
House Speaker Paul Ryan has voiced support for an infrastructure bill but said recently that the size of the package will depend on how much "fiscal space" lawmakers can make when crafting the government's budget this spring.
Schumer said Democrats have suggested closing tax loopholes to pay for the plan but asserted that the best way to upgrade the country's ailing infrastructure is through federal investment. He added that the provisions of Trump's plan, including tax incentives for developers, public-private partnerships and funding from repatriation of overseas corporate revenues, would not be enough to spur major infrastructure spending.
"We're going to need a robust investment in infrastructure, period," Schumer said. The New York lawmaker has discussed infrastructure with Trump and said the new president "seems open" to a large bill similar to the Democrats' blueprint.
In terms of energy, the Democrats' plan includes "much-needed" power transmission and distribution upgrades to make the grid more resilient against extreme weather and cyberattacks. The blueprint provided estimates that avoidable power failures cost the U.S. economy $25 billion to $70 billion annually. The proposal also would "consolidate and reform" existing tax incentives for renewable energy and create tax credits to reward cleaner electric generation, transportation fuels and efficiency improvements.