WASHINGTON, DC: US President Joe Biden departs after delivering remarks in the State Dining Room of the White House on March 15, 2021 in Washington, DC. - AFP

WASHINGTON: President Joe Biden's administration is considering spending $3 trillion on infrastructure in the United States, split into two bills that face narrow paths to approval in Congress, US media reported on Monday. The infrastructure plan would follow the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Biden signed earlier month, which was aimed at helping the world's largest economy recover from the damage done by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Biden, who took office in January, vowed to pass a second bill aimed at improving infrastructure in the United States and creating jobs, and US media reported that would likely be divided up into two proposals costing a total of $3 trillion. "We'll use taxpayers' dollars to rebuild America. We'll buy American products, supporting millions of American manufacturing jobs, enhancing our competitive strength in an increasingly competitive world," Biden said in the January speech announcing the two plans.

However any new measures could face tough odds in Congress, where Democrats hold a thin margin in the House and are evenly split with Republicans in the Senate, forcing them to use a special parliamentary manuever to pass the American Rescue Plan without opposition support.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki disputed the reports, saying "President Biden and his team are considering a range of potential options for how to invest in working families and reform our tax code so it rewards work, not wealth." "Those conversations are ongoing, so any speculation about future economic proposals is premature and not a reflection of the White House's thinking," she said.

Twin proposals

Citing people familiar with the proposals, US media said the new measure would be broken up into two parts, with the first being aimed at improving infrastructure, including a $400 billion investment in fighting climate change. Also included would be $200 billion for housing infrastructure, $100 billion for low-income homes and $60 billion for green transit networks.

The second proposal would focus on the labor force, and pay for free community college, pre-kindergarten education and paid leave. It would also extend tax credits aimed at fighting child poverty and helping Americans afford health insurance, according to the reports.

The American Rescue Plan, along with the $2.2 trillion CARES Act passed in March 2020 and a $900 billion measure passed in December, have been credited with helping the US economy avoid a worse downturn after the pandemic caused mass layoffs and business closures nationwide.

Yet the expensive proposals have wreaked havoc on the national finances, sending the budget deficit to $3.1 trillion in 2020, an all-time high, which the Congressional Budget office forecasts the national debt will rise above GDP this year. It remains unclear how Biden would pay for these plans, but the report said he could consider tax increases on corporations or the highest earners-proposals Republicans may reject. - AFP