House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday said bipartisanship will take a back seat to what’s needed to save the Earth in President Biden’s massive infrastructure plan.
“We cannot settle for what we can agree on. We have to recognize that this bill is about the future, recognizing the climate crisis and the need for greening,” Mrs. Pelosi told reporters.
That doesn’t mean she’s ruling out some areas of agreement with Republicans. Bipartisanship just isn’t the only priority, said Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat.
“We cannot abandon our responsibility to make this a bill for the future, to save the planet,” she said.
Her remarks set a familiar tone on Capitol Hill, where Democrats hold narrow majorities in both chambers and rammed through a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package without the support of a single Republican.
Democrats signaled that they are prepared to go it alone in the same way with the infrastructure package.
Most of the spending in the bill, expected to total as much as $3 trillion, would go toward upgrading the nation’s roads, bridges and public transit systems. Bit its most ambitious parts are expected to deal with climate change, to try to reach the Biden administration’s goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
The bill, among other things, is expected to include mandates that tunnels and other projects be built “green-friendly,” with concrete additives that absorb carbon dioxide. The plan will include at least $500 million to install electric vehicle charging stations across the country and funding for an alternative to conventional automobile and airplane travel.
The proposal also will deal with racial and gender inequities like business ownership that Congress neglected “when we did infrastructure in the past,” said Mrs. Pelosi.
In a wide-ranging press conference, the speaker also echoed Mr. Biden in blaming other factors that the new administration’s policies for a surge of illegal immigrant children arriving at the U.S. border.
“This is the time of the year when there are more people coming traditionally. It’s important to note that more people are coming now because COVID prevented people from coming. So we have a somewhat doubling down of the people who are coming,” said Mrs. Pelosi.
She didn’t answer when asked if she plans to visit the border as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and some other Republican lawmakers have done.
Rather, she emphasized that dealing with the surge involves undoing the Trump administration’s policies, including cutting aid to the three so-called Golden Triangle countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, where the illegal immigrants are coming from.
Violence in those countries, as well as an agricultural downturn linked to climate change, have pushed more families to head for the U.S, she said.
“Why else would a mom and a child cross a desert to come to the United States,” she said.
She described the current chaos on the border in terms of growing pains.
“We have to deconstruct the harm that was done in the last four years to construct what to do coming forward,” she said. “Deconstruct so we can construct better.”
Mrs. Pelosi predicted California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom would survive a likely recall election, which she downplayed as being pushed by “Trump-ites.” She dismissed, as well, the idea of other Democrats entering any recall race, in case Newsom loses.
“The governor will defeat this initiative. He will continue to be governor, and he will go on to another victory,” Mrs. Pelosi said.