Finance

Chairman: Democrats won’t propose infrastructure funding source without White House agreement

Greg Nash

A key Democratic committee chairman on Wednesday said that House Democrats aren’t going to offer up a revenue source to pay for an infrastructure package until they have a deal with the White House.

“I think it’s really important that we not volunteer a revenue stream until the administration reaches an agreement with us,” House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) said at a news conference. “And I think that that will provide an opportunity for Republicans and Democrats, after our committee negotiates with them over what the revenue stream ought to be, to get on with what is a sorely needed investment in America.”

He added that he thinks the best path forward is to reach a bipartisan agreement on how to pay for an infrastructure bill “so there’s not one-upmanship.”

House Democrats on Wednesday unveiled a $760 billion infrastructure plan, but didn’t specify how they’d pay for the proposal. The Ways and Means Committee held a hearing Wednesday afternoon to discuss infrastructure financing.

Democrats said they want to work with the administration to reach an agreement on infrastructure that can receive bipartisan support, with Neal saying that he’s spoken to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin about the issue.

But it’s unclear if Trump will have much of an appetite to work with Democrats on legislation this year. A meeting between congressional Democrats and Trump in May was abruptly cut short when the president expressed frustrations over Democrats’ investigations of him.

Neal also suggested that congressional scorekeepers use “dynamic scoring,” taking economic effects into account, when they issue a revenue estimate of an infrastructure measure. Dynamic scoring has often been championed in the past by Republicans when they have pursued tax cuts that they argue will boost the economy.

“You want a bump in economic growth; it will come from infrastructure investment,” Neal said.

During Wednesday’s hearing, Neal spoke about his support for infrastructure and economic-development financing tools such as tax-preferred bonds, the new markets tax credit and the low income housing tax credit.

The top Republican on the Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), warned against raising taxes to pay for infrastructure. He hoped that Democrats and Republicans could pursue policies designed to encourage more private capital to be invested in infrastructure, such as creating opportunity zones for infrastructure or redesigning private-activity bonds.

“We need infrastructure, not tax increases on the American people or job-creating businesses,” Brady said. “Proposals calling for the latter jeopardize any chance of attaining the former.” 

Updated at 2:58 p.m.

Tags Infrastructure Kevin Brady Richard Neal Steven Mnuchin

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