May 12, 2021

How Does the Republican Infrastructure Plan Compare to President Biden's Proposal?

On April 22, 2021, a group of Republican Senators released details for a proposed five-year, $568 billion infrastructure package as a counter to President Biden’s $2.7 trillion American Jobs Plan. Despite being just one-fifth the size of the American Jobs Plan, the Senate Republican infrastructure proposal would still mark one of the largest federal infrastructure investments in recent history, if enacted.

Let’s take a closer look at the key components of the Senate Republican infrastructure proposal, highlighting some of the differences between it and the American Jobs Plan in terms of scope and potential pay-fors.

What Is Included in the Republican Infrastructure Proposal?

In contrast with the broad scope of the American Jobs Plan, the Senate Republican infrastructure proposal would invest primarily in areas more traditionally associated with transportation and communications infrastructure. Specifically, the proposal would allocate over half of the total cost to the construction, operation, and maintenance of the nation’s roads and bridges.

Proposed spending in the Senate Republican infrastructure plan covers a five-year window and is broken down in the following ways:

$299 billion for roads and bridges, with funds going to:

  • The Federal Highway Administration
  • The Office of the Secretary

$65 billion for broadband infrastructure, with funds going to:

  • The Federal Communications Commission
  • The National Telecommunications and Information Administration

$61 billion for public transportation systems, with funds going to:

  • The Federal Transit Administration

$44 billion for airports, with funds going to:

  • The Federal Aviation Administration

$35 billion for drinking water and wastewater infrastructure, with funds going to:

  • The Environmental Protection Agency

$20 billion for rail infrastructure, with funds going to:

  • Amtrak
  • The Federal Railroad Administration
  • The Office of the Secretary

$17 billion for ports and inland waterways, with funds going to:

  • The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • The Maritime Administration

$14 billion for water storage, with funds going to:

  • The Bureau of Reclamation

$13 billion for safety efforts, with funds going to:

  • The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
  • The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration

How Do Senate Republicans Propose Paying for Their Infrastructure Proposal?

Republicans in the Senate who have endorsed the infrastructure proposal have signaled that the bill’s cost should be paid for to avoid increasing the debt. However, whereas President Biden’s plan lays out specific policy proposals that are estimated to fully offset the spending in the American Jobs Plan, the Senate Republican infrastructure proposal offers little mention of specific pay-fors, instead calling for users of all types of infrastructure to contribute to the generation of revenue. Additionally, Republicans backing the proposal have indicated they oppose using increases to corporate and international tax rates as revenue raisers to offset spending in their plan.

The Republican proposal calls for shoring up all infrastructure-related trust funds that face revenue shortfalls. However, Republicans made clear that their infrastructure proposal does not include an increase to the gas tax, which is the primary funding source for the Highway Trust Fund and faces a projected cumulative funding shortfall of $190 billion by 2030. Finally, Senate Republicans suggest repurposing unused federal spending to offset some of the costs included in their infrastructure proposal, but offer no specific identification of the unused federal spending in question.

How Does the Senate Republican Proposal Compare to the Biden Administration’s Proposal?

The most notable difference between the Senate Republican infrastructure proposal and President Biden’s American Jobs Plan is the cost. Whereas the Biden administration’s proposal would spend roughly $2.7 trillion over an eight-year window, the Senate Republican package would total $568 billion (or one-fifth of the Democratic proposal) over five years.

The plans proposed by Senate Republicans and President Biden differ in both size and scope

Senate Republican Plan American Jobs Plan
Roads and Bridges $299 billion $115 billion
Broadband $65 billion $100 billion
Public Transportation $61 billion $85 billion
Airports $44 billion $25 billion
Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure $35 billion $66 billion
Rail $20 billion $80 billion
Ports and Inland Waterways $17 billion $17 billion
Clean Energy Tax Breaks $0 $400 billion
Caretaking Infrastructure $0 $400 billion
Domestic Manufacturing $0 $310 billion
R&D $0 $180 billion
Electric Vehicle Investment $0 $174 billion
Affordable Housing $0 $126 billion
Workforce Development $0 $100 billion
Upgrade Public Schools $0 $100 billion
Other Policies $0 $422 billion
Total $568 billion $2,700 billion

SOURCES: Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, What's In President Biden's American Jobs Plan, April 2021; and United States Senate, The Republican Roadmap: A Framework to Improve the Nation's Infrastructure, April 2021.
© 2021 Peter G. Peterson Foundation

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The policies laid out in the Senate Republican infrastructure plan are less comprehensive than those prepared by the Biden administration in the American Jobs Plan. For instance, the American Jobs Plan includes funding for elderly care, affordable housing, and job training, none of which are included in the Republican’s plan. Instead, the Senate Republican proposal focuses predominantly on investments in physical capital infrastructure like roads, bridges, railways, ports, and more.

Looking Ahead

At a total cost of $568 billion, the Senate Republican infrastructure proposal is significantly smaller in both size and scope than President Biden’s infrastructure proposal. While the Biden administration has identified specific ways to pay for the new spending in their plan, the Republican package is less detailed in that regard. The process to ultimately enact an infrastructure bill is in the early stages, and it remains to be seen how lawmakers in Congress will reconcile the two proposed packages’ sizes, priorities, and pay-fors.


Related: What’s in Biden's Infrastructure Plan and How He Proposes Paying for It


Image credit: Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

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