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Photo: Axios

In order to pass its infrastructure bill, the Biden administration will need to focus it on "traditional infrastructure," such as roads, bridges, water, and wastewater supplies, Rep. Steve Womack (R-Ark.) said during an Axios virtual event on Tuesday.

Why it matters: Biden and Senate Republicans have been in the midst of negotiations over what an infrastructure package will look like but they are still far apart on any deal. Republicans, like Womack, are opposed to many of the initiatives proposed by the Biden administration.

  • Womack said that Biden's original proposal "isn't going anywhere" because it "doesn't deal with infrastructure."
  • "About 6% of the Biden proposal even deals with what we call traditional infrastructure," said Womack.
  • "The administration is going have to come to the table and agree that if we're going to get an infrastructure bill out, we're going to need to make sure that it primarily deals with what we believe is traditional infrastructure, and that's roads and bridges, moving people, water, wastewater."

Womack also spoke about the specific infrastructure issues that need to be addressed in Arkansas, including highway and airport infrastructure, and improving access to broadband in rural areas.

Watch the full event here.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jun 7, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Key Senate Dem fears climate is falling off the radar

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse. Photo By Tom Williams-Pool/Getty Images.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), one of Capitol Hill's most vocal members on climate change, went public on Monday about his fear that chances to enact major legislation on the topic are slipping away.

Why it matters: His tweets reflect wider angst on the left that large clean energy and climate investments will be jettisoned in infrastructure negotiations between the White House and Congress.

Updated Jun 8, 2021 - Axios Events

Watch: A conversation on the future of Northwest Arkansas

On Tuesday, June 8, Axios NW Arkansas reporters Alex Golden and Worth Sparkman discussed the future of the region, looking at housing development, local post-pandemic recovery and the impact on the community, featuring Rep. Steve Womack (R-Ark.) and University of Arkansas Center for Business and Economic Research director Mervin Jebaraj.

Rep. Steve Womack discussed negotiations between President Biden and Republicans over the infrastructure bill, underscoring the importance of bridges and roads.

  • On Republican priorities for the bill: "The administration is going have to come to the table and agree that if we're going to get an infrastructure bill out, we're going to need to make sure that it primarily deals with what we believe is traditional infrastructure, and that's roads and bridges, moving people, water, wastewater."

Mervin Jebaraj unpacked economic trends in the region, as well as the housing and commercial real estate market.

  • On real estate trends: "We haven't seen a whole lot of softness in the lease rates for commercial space so far, with vacancy rates staying fairly level...We've seen materials prices go up across the board that has been before. The pandemic was already an issue with labor supply. So we're expecting to continue to see higher lease rates, especially for the nicely finished out spaces."

Axios co-founder and CEO Jim VandeHei hosted a View from the Top segment with Runway Group co-founder Steuart Walton who discussed the economic potential in Northwest Arkansas.

  • "We're long on northwest Arkansas as a place to invest and we're really excited about the potential here. In that region is one of the fastest-growing regions in the country, but people might not know it because it's a sort of a collection of small and midsize towns."

Thank you Northwest Arkansas Council for sponsoring this event.

Updated Jun 9, 2021 - Axios Events

Watch: A conversation on redefining infrastructure

On Wednesday, June 9, Axios co-founder Mike Allen and politics reporter Hans Nichols explored the Biden administration’s infrastructure proposal, from the policies on the table to the bipartisan negotiations to get it passed, featuring White House National Economic Council director Brian Deese, House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee member Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) and chair Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) and United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby.

Brian Deese discussed President Biden's commitment to outreach to Republicans, as well as the importance of investing in the future of American infrastructure.

  • "This is a global race to win the markets of the twenty-first century...I think that these investments are calibrated for the moment we find ourselves in to win that future, to win the clean energy markets of the future."

Rep. DeFazio unpacked debate over the surface transportation bill and various sticking points for both parties.

  • The major stumbling block with my committee Republicans is climate change. They do not want my surface transportation bill to address climate change because they can't say or they don't believe in it...We can work together on a lot of things, but they just will not address climate change.

Rep. Davis discussed the concerns from local officials and county commissioners, country commissioners in his district with regards to infrastructure funding.

  • "They talked about the need for a more certain regulatory environment. They're concerned that they can't get projects approved, especially as we're getting out of COVID."

Axios CEO and co-founder Jim VandeHei hosted a View from the Top segment with Scott Kirby, who highlighted the role of the airline industry in infrastructure debates, as well as their dedication to safe travel.

  • "The biggest thing that we're focused on in the near term is really in the infrastructure bill and what can be done around climate change initiatives. And in the shorter term, how do we get borders open?... [So] we can start to safely open those up, get those parts of the economy cranking up again, get people back to connecting."

Thank you United Airlines for sponsoring this event.