October 5, 2021

Biden's Broken Promise on Infrastructure Double Dipping


  • During negotiations over the Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure bill, President Biden promised that Democrats would not “double dip” on infrastructure funding.
  • Now the left is breaking that promise and trying to increase or include funding for its partisan priorities in the Democrats’ reckless tax and spending spree.
  • Democrats are focused on increasing funding for their liberal wish list of items, such as $10 billion for transit, $10 billion for high-speed rail, and $80 billion for school infrastructure.

This summer, a bipartisan group of senators and the White House negotiated a wide-ranging package to improve America’s infrastructure. The legislation ranges from a five-year reauthorization of federal surface transportation programs to support for drinking, wastewater, and energy infrastructure. Both sides agree the bill is imperfect, but it is a thorough compromise that will spur necessary improvements.

DeFazio Quote

As the group debated how to address the most pressing infrastructure needs of the nation in a way that could garner support from both sides of the aisle, President Biden promised that he would not “double dip” on infrastructure funding. He reportedly told Republican senators, “I won’t add something back in reconciliation that you guys didn’t do.” This commitment, which the White House confirmed to Politico in June, became increasingly relevant as Democrats began plotting their $3.5 trillion reckless tax and spending spree. But now, under growing pressure from liberals to deliver on their agenda, President Biden and Democrats in Congress are going back on his word. American taxpayers will pay the price for this about-face.

Biden’s Broken Promise

In addition to what President Biden promised Republican senators in order to get their support for the infrastructure spending he wanted, he also publicly spelled out his commitment. At a June press conference, the president explained: “The single greatest currency you have is your word — keeping your word. … The people I was with today are people that I trust. I don’t agree with them on a lot of things, but I trust them when they say, ‘This is a deal. We’ll stick to the deal.’ Just like I doubt that you’ll find any one of them who say they don’t trust me when I said, ‘Okay, this is the deal — on these issues, this is a deal we’ll stick with.’”

Republicans understood the president’s pledge to mean everyone was negotiating in good faith and that Democrats would not later act unilaterally to increase funding for infrastructure initiatives that were not included in the final deal. Now, that is precisely the track Democrats are now pursuing.

Democrats’ Partisan shopping list

Democratic Representative Peter DeFazio, chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, stated his blatant disregard for President Biden’s commitment. He said in an August interview: “There have been some vague pledges that I’m not quite sure of from the president saying no more money for things that are in [the infrastructure] bill, but I didn’t make that agreement and I think there are ways to work around that.” 

Ultimately, the House Transportation Committee included $10 billion for a new program to support transit as part of its contribution to Democrats’ reckless tax and spending spree. Democrats had reportedly pushed for an additional $10 billion in transit funding during the bipartisan infrastructure negotiations, but they were unsuccessful. Through authorizations and appropriations, the final bipartisan bill provides nearly $107 billion for transit through fiscal year 2026. The White House has even touted the bipartisan bill as the “largest federal investment in public transit ever.” All of this is on top of more than $69 billion in emergency relief that has been provided for transit since March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Senator Pat Toomey, ranking member of the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, called on the committee’s chairman, Senator Sherrod Brown, to honor the president’s commitment.

Democrats’ Pricey Double Dip

Double Dipping Examples

Democrats are also trying to slip $10 billion for high-speed rail into their latest partisan plan, along with $6 billion for “projects to advance local surface transportation priorities,” meaning earmarks secured as part of the partisan House-passed INVEST in America Act. The final bipartisan bill would provide $36 billion for the Federal-State Partnership grant program that can be used to fund high-speed rail projects. The left is also funding “Neighborhood Access and Equity Grants” at nearly $4 billion, while an almost identical initiative receives $1 billion under the bipartisan bill. In their partisan plan, Democrats provide another $3.5 billion for mitigating port emissions, after the bipartisan bill authorized $250 million for the same goal. And the left wants to spend $5 billion to replace existing heavy-duty vehicles with newer, zero-emission vehicles, after the bipartisan bill directed $5 billion for a new program to help purchase clean school buses and $500 million to bolster alternative-fuel vehicles at schools.

The bipartisan infrastructure bill allocates $5 billion for a National Electric Vehicle Formula Program and directs the secretary of transportation to create a grant program to support charging infrastructure for electric vehicles. Apparently this was not enough for Democrats’ radical climate plans. In their reckless tax and spending spree, Democrats are proposing taxpayers spend another $13 billion for several programs at the Department of Energy to bolster EV infrastructure, including $4 billion for the Plug-In Electric Drive Vehicle Program and $6 billion for the Near-Term Transportation Sector Electrification Program. The bipartisan infrastructure bill authorized $550 million to implement an energy efficiency and conservation block grant program for the states. In the House reconciliation bill, an additional $5 billion is authorized for this exact same program.

To improve drinking and wastewater infrastructure, the bipartisan bill includes more than $14 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund. The bill specifically appropriates $15 billion to support the replacement of lead drinking water infrastructure. Yet, the Democrats included in their reckless tax and spending spree another $30 billion for EPA State Revolving Loan Funds for the same purpose.

The bipartisan infrastructure bill contains nearly $65 billion in broadband spending, including $42.5 billion for a new program administered by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration at the Commerce Department to provide grants to states to expand broadband to unserved and underserved areas. The reckless tax and spend spree contains billions more in broadband money. It includes $4 billion for the Federal Communications Commission’s Emergency Connectivity Fund and a new tax credit for government-run networks, despite their history of being a bad deal for taxpayers. This new funding is on top of billions of previously allocated broadband dollars that remain unspent.

Democrats are trying to add additional money for school infrastructure: more than $80 billion in their partisan bill, after the bipartisan bill authorized $500 million for energy efficiency updates and $200 million to remove lead infrastructure in schools. They are even pushing for $400 million for the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund, after the fund got $172 million in the bipartisan bill.

Republicans understand the need to improve America’s infrastructure – that is why they worked with Democrats and the president to pass comprehensive legislation this summer. But Congress should focus its limited resources on the most immediate needs. President Biden and Democrats should honor his word on double dipping and abandon their reckless tax and spending spree entirely.