Over the past several weeks, prominent Democrats in Washington have claimed that items ranging from caregiving, to climate action, to the Everglades ecosystem in South Florida are all examples of infrastructure.
President Biden said at a recent press conference that computer chips are infrastructure, telling reporters “chips, like the one I have here — these chips, these wafers, are batteries, broadband; it’s all infrastructure. This is infrastructure.”
Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., proclaimed on Twitter last week that “climate action is infrastructure,” arguing in a Washington Post op-ed that “a true infrastructure plan” will deliver “climate justice” and should include key elements of the Green New Deal.
And Rep. Marilyn Strickland, D-Wash., said three days ago that “affordable housing is infrastructure” as she announced a new piece of legislation that would “make smart, effective, and green housing infrastructure investments” around the country.
Their colleagues in state politics are going further. Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, the second most senior state Democrat in Wisconsin, said “police accountability is infrastructure” on Thursday as he calls for policing reform.
Some Democrats have even joked about how far their party is stretching the limits of the term. The newly elected Rep. Mondaire Jones, D-N.Y., tweeted on Wednesday that “Supreme Court expansion is infrastructure,” a tongue-in-cheek reference to his plan to add four new members to the Supreme Court.
The statements come during the White House’s sales pitch for the American Jobs Plan, a $2.25 trillion bill that Biden says is a “blueprint for infrastructure needed for tomorrow.”
It would be the second piece of signature legislation for the Biden administration after the American Rescue Plan. That COVID-19 recovery bill contained unrelated spending provisions, such as $100 million for a Silicon Valley railway project and $1.5 million for a bridge between the U.S. and Canada favored by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.
New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand first raised eyebrows about the definition of “infrastructure” in early April when she said, “Paid leave is infrastructure. Child care is infrastructure. Caregiving is infrastructure.”
She told Fox News’ Neil Cavuto last week that “we define… infrastructure as what’s necessary to get the economy moving. And if you don’t have access to day care, universal pre-K, affordable day care, or a national paid leave plan, it’s going to be really hard to get families back to work.”
Meanwhile, Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters last month that Biden’s bill is “like a Trojan horse… it’s called infrastructure, but inside the Trojan horse it’s going to be more borrowed money and massive tax increases on all the productive parts of our economy.”
The New Oxford American Dictionary defines infrastructure as “the basic physical and organizational structures and facilities (e.g. buildings, roads, power supplies) needed for the operation of a society or enterprise.”
Rémy Numa is the political affairs specialist for Fox News Channel.