Section: Washington Update

The incoming Biden Administration has announced its priorities for the next four years. With both chambers of Congress now in Democratic control for at least the next two years, the pressure to advance legislative priorities as quickly as possible has grown. There are a number of items that may impact NASACT member offices.
COVID-19 Response
Under the Biden plan, a new, larger Coronavirus Relief Bill would be introduced to include items such as:
  • A renewable fund for state and local governments to help prevent budget shortfalls.
  • An extension of COVID crisis unemployment insurance to help those who are out of work.
  • A comeback package for Main Street businesses and entrepreneurs.
  • Immediately put people to work by enlisting them to help fight the pandemic, including through a Public Health Jobs Corps.
  • State, local, and tribal government aid so educators, firefighters, and other essential workers are not being laid off.
  • Clear, consistent, evidence-based guidance for how communities should navigate the pandemic, including resources for schools, small businesses, and families. 
To pay for the ongoing costs of the plan, the Biden administration would reverse some of Trump’s tax cuts for corporations and impose tax reforms to ensure the wealthiest Americans pay a fair share (people who make more than $400,000 a year).
President-elect Biden is a vocal supporter of infrastructure projects for their job-creation ability, and his priority list include some large tasks:
  • Auto Industry: Create one million new jobs in the American auto industry, domestic auto supply chains, and auto infrastructure, from parts to materials to electric vehicle charging stations.
  • Transit: Provide every American city with 100,000 or more residents with high-quality, zero-emissions public transportation options through flexible federal investments with strong labor protections that create good, union jobs and meet the needs of these cities, ranging from light rail networks to improving existing transit and bus lines to installing infrastructure for pedestrians and bicyclists.
  • Buildings: Upgrade four million buildings and weatherize two million homes over four years, creating at least one million good-paying jobs (with a choice to join a union) and spur the building retrofit and efficient-appliance manufacturing supply chain by funding direct cash rebates and low-cost financing to upgrade and electrify home appliances and install more efficient windows, which will cut residential energy bills.
  • Housing: Spur the construction of 1.5 million sustainable homes and housing units.
  • Innovation: Drive dramatic cost reductions in critical clean energy technologies, including battery storage, negative emissions technologies, the next generation of building materials, renewable hydrogen, and advanced nuclear–and rapidly commercialize them–ensuring that those new technologies are made in America
  • Agriculture and Conservation: Create jobs in climate-smart agriculture, resilience, and conservation, including 250,000 jobs plugging abandoned oil and natural gas wells and reclaiming abandoned coal, hard rock, and uranium mines–providing good work with a choice to join or continue membership in a union in hard-hit communities, including rural communities, reducing leakage of toxics, and preventing local environmental damage.
  • Environmental Justice: Ensure that environmental justice is a key consideration in where, how, and with whom we build. 

Economy and Health Care
Also in the priority list, although details are few on these items at this time, are:
  • A $15 minimum wage.
  • Universal paid sick days and 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave.
  • A public health care option and lower costs for care and for prescription drugs.