Dingell leads Democratic group proposing $10 trillion jobs, infrastructure package

Riley Beggin
The Detroit News
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Washington — Congressional Democrats are introducing a bill Thursday that would invest at least $1 trillion annually into transportation and water infrastructure, clean energy, protecting natural resources and supporting child and senior care over the next decade. 

The $10 trillion proposal is significantly larger than the $2 trillion, 8-year jobs and infrastructure package proposed by President Joe Biden, which is facing opposition from Republicans in the narrowly divided Congress. 

Debbie Dingell, U. S Representative for Michigan's 12th District during a press conference in West Bloomfield Township, Michigan on Oct. 18, 2020.

Michigan Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn, will be one of the lead co-sponsors of the legislation in the House, while Sens. Ed Markey of Massachusetts and Jeff Merkley of Oregon will spearhead the legislation in the Senate. 

"Last year, we kept pitting jobs versus the environment. It isn't either-or, it's both," Dingell said. "The pandemic has shined a light on the cracks in our society. It's placed the burden on vulnerable communities. That's why we need a bold economic renewal plan, and the THRIVE Act is exactly what we need."

The package will guide a "transformative mission to bring justice and healing to our communities," she added. "We'll save our environment, protect jobs and achieve the racial and economic equity that our nation demands."

Dingell's office said the bill is not intended to replace the president's jobs and infrastructure proposal but could be wrapped into it. Spokespeople for the president did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether he would support the package.

A draft version of the bill shared with The Detroit News says the targets would include creating 15.5 million jobs and achieving full employment, all zero-emission new buildings by 2025, a rapid transition to zero-emission vehicles and infrastructure to support them, accessible public transit nationwide by 2030, 100% clean energy nationwide by 2035, all zero-emission school buses by 2035, and "meaningful and measurable" counteraction of injustice.

The bill would also require the spending program to support the emissions reductions necessary to keep global warming to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels and aim to provide significant help to workers who are affected by the shifting economy through wage, housing and educational assistance.

Qualifying projects would have to meet specific labor standards, including protecting workers' right to organize and paying a $15 minimum wage or the prevailing wage, whatever is greater. Projects would also have to provide to workers at least 12 weeks of paid family leave, two weeks of paid sick time and two weeks of paid vacation. 

At least half of the funding would go to low-income communities and communities of color, and a board of 20 representatives from "impacted communities," unions and indigenous communities would be appointed by the president to oversee allocation of the funds.

The Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts Amherst estimated the legislation would generate around 260,000 jobs in the first year of the program and that Michigan would stand to gain at least $29 billion in funding annually, including $10.9 billion for renewable energy and $9.8 billion for infrastructure. 

The proposal, dubbed the "Transform, Heal and Renew by Investing in a Vibrant Economy" or THRIVE Act, was first introduced as a resolution last fall and was designed by members of the Green New Deal Network, a coalition of progressive political, environmental and labor organizations. 

rbeggin@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @rbeggin

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