6. A new idea for American infrastructure
For more than a year, United by Interest — a majority-minority-owned bipartisan lobbying firm — has been working on a plan to unite the bases of both parties to rally behind an infrastructure bill that would invest in America’s poorest communities.
The bill — called the Generating American Infrastructure and Income Now (GAIIN) Act — is expected to be introduced in the House this Tuesday. It brings together a rare coalition, uniting members of the Freedom Caucus and the Congressional Black Caucus:
- The bill will be co-sponsored by Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Mike Kelly; Democratic Rep. William Lacy Clay Jr., a member of the Congressional Black Caucus; and Republican Rep. Ted Budd from the ultra conservative House Freedom Caucus.
The details: According to sources involved in the bill's drafting, the legislation would require the Department of Agriculture to sell its distressed debt assets, estimated to be worth more than $50 billion.
- The money gained by selling off these assets would be divided in two: half would go to paying down the national debt and half would go to "funding much-needed infrastructure projects across the country in communities below the poverty level," according to a source familiar with the bill.
- "The bill is considered a pilot program," the source added, "and if successful, the members behind it are expected to introduce additional legislation that would call for other agencies to sell off their distressed debt assets to fund additional infrastructure projects and continue to pay down the debt."
Rep. Kelly, the bill's lead sponsor, told Axios: "Even in this time of historically strong economic growth, some of our country’s poorest communities are still waiting for significant infrastructure improvements."
- "This unique piece of legislation will directly benefit them and lift up their economies without raising taxes or adding to the deficit. It’s win-win-win."
The politics: Sam Geduldig and Michael Williams, of United by Interest, say the bill appeals to conservatives because it shows a "possible path to paying for infrastructure projects, without having to raise the gas tax." And it also appeals to liberals because "the infrastructure projects the bill would pay for would be in communities below the poverty line, which largely happen to be African American, Hispanic and rural white communities."