By Isaac Cohen*
The ongoing negotiations in Washington about the meaning of the term “infrastructure” reveal that in politics words have a price. To start the negotiation, the White House proposed an infrastructure bill based on a wide concept, including roads, bridges and ports, together with other components, such as replacement of led pipes, climate related activities and veteran’s hospitals, amounting to $2.3 trillion. The Republican negotiators, led by Senator Shelley Moore Capito (West Virginia), proposed to focus on the “traditional” concept of infrastructure, including roads, bridges, and ports, amounting to over $500 million.
The gap between both proposals apparently has been shortened, after conversations between both parties, because the Republican side has increased its proposal to close to $1 trillion, while the White House said it is willing to consider such an offer. The intention is to come to a bipartisan agreement that can be presented to Congress on June 7, when legislators return from the Memorial Day Recess.
If there is agreement on the concept and the cost, the last step is to decide how to finance the program, which would make real the bipartisanship promised by President Joseph Biden during the campaign, which has not yet happened. If there is no agreement, said the White House lead negotiator Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, in last Sunday’s ABC News This Week, the United States will remain in 13th place in infrastructure, behind several advanced economies and China.
*International analyst and consultant, former Director ECLAC Washington. Commentator on economic and financial issues for CNN en Español TV and radio, UNIVISION, TELEMUNDO and other media.