While the Biden/Harris Administration and Congress are still negotiating the COVID relief measure, the American Rescue Act, they are also readying two other major legislative proposals on Immigration and Infrastructure for Congress to consider.
The Immigration Reform Bill called the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 will be introduced in Congress today (February 18, 2021) by New Jersey Senator Bob Menedez and California House Representative Linda Sanchez.
Please click below to watch the announcement.
The major features of this bill include:
- A pathway to citizenship for qualifying illegal immigrants over eight years.
- Invest in Border security technology.
- Eliminating restrictions on family-based immigration.
- Expand work visas.
- Adding immigration judges and other resources at ports of entry.
- Sending foreign aid to “distressed” country’s where most migrants are coming from.
- Higher penalties to employers who “exploit” undocumented immigrants.
There are, of course, questions about Republican support for the legislation in its current form. Obviously, they would want more funding for border security and perhaps a longer period to secure citizenship but it is an open question whether compromising on that would get the support needed from the former Party of Lincoln.
The second major bill, probably one that will also go through the budget reconciliation process is on infrastructure.
President Biden and Vice President Harris have already met with a group of bipartisan Senators and Union Leaders to discuss this measure patterned after the Biden/Harris Campaign’s Build Back Better program.
Calling it the “largest mobilization of public investment since World War II,” this infrastructure bill is estimated to cost approximately two trillion dollars.
The major features of this bill would include:
- Repairing and modernizing roads, bridges, and railways including a national high-speed rail line.
- Modernizing the electric grid.
- Expanding broadband.
- Building modern schools.
- Adding electric vehicle charging stations.
- Tax Incentives to buy hybrid and electric vehicles and invest in clean energy programs.
- Weatherize housing and commercial properties.
- Creating millions of good union jobs.
Unlike the American Rescue Act, there are already questions on how much this bill should be and how to pay for the infrastructure plan which could prove divisive.
Apparently some of the labor leaders Biden and Harris met with want a four trillion-dollar bill to satisfy the nation’s pressing infrastructure needs.
While the Democrats are agreed that infrastructure is vital and investments should tilt toward a pro-environment and clean energy approach, there are internal questions over how much in dollars and environmental levels should be mandated. Moderates are also concerned about doing another multi-trillion dollar bill through the reconciliation process.
Republicans like Oklahoma Senator Jim Mr. Throw a Snowball in the Senate Inhofe (who attended the Senate meeting with Biden and Harris) are already squeamish about the environmental aspect and how to pay for it.
House Budget Committee Chairperson Richard Neal said that tax increases to pay for the bill like raising the gas tax or rates on wealthy individuals, families, and corporations should be scheduled for after the country has safely and fully come through the pandemic.
2021 has the potential to be the year the country inaugurated a renewal of American greatness.
Hopefully, Congress will be able to pass the measures like the American Rescue Act, Infrastructure, Immigration Reform, Voting Rights, and other progressive measures that will steer the country forward after years of Republican-imposed listless stagnation.
If the Democrats can and have to use reconciliation over the next two years to pass these measures, they should.
The people are sick and tired of programs they support being obstructed by members of the former Party of Lincoln who has never cared about them.
The time for action and, as President Biden has said “go big” is now.