Lawmakers Set to Give Infrastructure a Fresh Look in 2021

WASHINGTON—Facing the possibility of another two years of divided government, Democrats and Republicans are eyeing a familiar topic as a possible area of bipartisan compromise under the Biden administration: infrastructure.

Efforts to craft a major bill repeatedly fell apart during the Trump administration, and disagreements on the scope of the legislation and how to pay for it will persist under a new president. But a fresh push from the next White House could break the logjam, even if control of the House and Senate continues to be split between the two parties.

“It would seem to be something that we can work together on in a productive way,” said Sen. John Barrasso (R., Wyo.), the No. 3 Republican in the Senate and the chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee.

Lawmakers see an infrastructure bill as a way both to stimulate an economy recovering from the coronavirus pandemic and to address an infrastructure system that experts say is deficient. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave the U.S. a grade of D+ in its last evaluation of the nation’s infrastructure, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has pushed for new investments.

The House passed a $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill over the summer, with about $500 billion aimed at highways, bridges, roads and public transit. The measure also sends funds toward housing, public schools and broadband internet access. President-elect Joe Biden has proposed a similar $2 trillion plan that funds transportation infrastructure as part of his efforts to combat climate change, including overhauling the energy grid, retrofitting buildings and conducting research.

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