Democrats Say Caregiving Is Infrastructure: Stimulus Update

House Democrats defended President Joe Biden’s inclusion in his “American Jobs Plan” of $400 billion in support for caregiving, after Republicans criticized the package as stretching the definition of infrastructure and called on the White House to scale it back.

Biden and his cabinet have argued that a broad definition of infrastructure is appropriate given the nation’s trenchant challenges with inequality and modern-day economic needs such as money for broadband and expanded federal research and development.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has targeted passage of Biden’s so-called American Jobs Plan in her chamber by July 4. Biden is expected to unveil another, social-program focused plan in coming weeks.

Related Developments:

Democrats Defend Caregivers’ Inclusion in Infrastructure Plan (5:16 p.m.)

A group of House Democrats defended President Joe Biden’s inclusion in his American Jobs Plan of $400 billion in so-called caregiving infrastructure to provide seniors and others more medical and long-term care at home.

“Care infrastructure is infrastructure,” said Illinois Representative Jan Schakowsky, referring to Biden’s proposed expansion of access to the home and community-based services.

She and other members of the House Democratic Task Force on Aging told reporters in a call that accessibility for workers to be able to find caregiving for seniors, and people with disabilities, will be critical to the economy as an impending “silver tsunami” approaches the nation.

The success of these efforts may hinge on developing higher-paying caregiving jobs that include benefits and the ability to collectively bargain, advocates say.

This push comes amid warnings from many Republicans -- including some who say they are supportive of working with Biden and congressional Democrats on a longer-term economic stimulus package -- not to stretch the definition of “infrastructure” too far.

Representative Doris Matsui of California said that without “this foundational aspect” of caregiving at home, “our country cannot move ahead into the 21st century.”

“Building bridges and roads and expanding broadband are traditional infrastructure. And supporting American families through health care is essential infrastructure,” Matsui said. -- Billy House

Republicans Call for Slimmed-Down Infrastructure Plan (1:34 p.m.)

Republican senators called for Biden to negotiate with them on a scaled-back version of his infrastructure-led package, demanding a tightened focus on traditional items such as roads and bridges rather than the administration’s more expansive proposal.

“There is bipartisan appetite for smart infrastructure bills that are built the right way,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday on the Senate floor. “There isn’t much appetite for using the word infrastructure to justify a colossal -- colossal -- multitrillion-dollar slush fund for unrelated bad ideas.”

McConnell said only 6% in Biden’s plan is for traditional infrastructure, and hammered it for the “extensive” job losses and economic damage that would result from the tax hikes. He singled out discussion of enhancing the tax on estates, saying the current framework allows for businesses and farms to be handed down to the next generation.

Two other Republican senators, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, also said on Bloomberg Television Tuesday they could support an increase in spending on traditional infrastructure.

“I’m hoping that we can narrow the focus,” said Capito. She said she’s working with Democrats in committees on chunks of a potential deal, including highways, airports, water projects and broadband.

“Those are the core areas of agreement. We’re going to hopefully convince the administration we need to stick to those to get that bipartisan support,” she said.

Toomey, who opposes Biden’s broader package and especially his call for corporate tax hikes to pay for it, said he could be convinced that some more money should be spent on things like roads and bridges.

“That can be pro-growth,” he said.

So far, Republicans have yet to coalesce around a particular offer or how to pay for it, however.

The effort to encourage a trimmed-back program is reminiscent of similar tactics in 2009, when the Obama administration sought bipartisan support for an economic recovery package. In the end, no GOP House lawmakers voted for the $787 billion bill, while only three Republicans backed it in the Senate. -- Steve Dennis

White House Fights GOP Tax Attack With Small-Business Outreach (11 a.m.)

The White House is pushing back against Republican criticism of Biden’s infrastructure-and-tax plan with an event Tuesday highlighting benefits for smaller businesses.

The virtual event with thousands of small-business owners late Tuesday afternoon represents the latest step in a coordinated public-relations campaign to sell the administration’s “American Jobs Plan.”

Top aides planned to highlight the way the president’s plan would boost federal contracting opportunities for small companies, help minority-owned manufacturing firms access capital and create a network of small-business incubators across the country. -- Nancy Cook

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

BQ Install

Bloomberg Quint

Add BloombergQuint App to Home screen.