DemDaily: Rebuilding “The Backbone of This Nation.” Breaking Down the Infrastructure Bill

November 16, 2021

President Biden signed into law the much awaited Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill yesterday, delivering on a key part of his economic agenda.

Although significantly smaller than the $2.25 trillion American Jobs Plan proposed in March, the historic legislation pours $1.2 trillion in funds into the nation's roads, bridges, ports, transit systems, broadband and more over the next five years.

The event was attended by members of Congress, governors and mayors from both political parties at the White House South Lawn. Nineteen Republicans voted for the measure when the Senate approved it in August, and 13 GOP members backed it when the House passed it November 5th.

"I ran for President believing it was time to rebuild the backbone of this nation which I characterize as working people in the middle class. They are the ones who built the country. And to rebuild the economy from the bottom up and the middle out, this law delivers on that long overdue promise...and creates better jobs for millions of Americans." - President Joseph Biden

The Breakdown

Roads and Bridges

* $110 billion for roads, bridges and major infrastructure projects.

That includes $40 billion for bridge repair, replacement and rehabilitation, the single, largest dedicated bridge investment since the construction of the interstate highway system started in the 1950s.

Transit and Rail

* $39 billion to modernize public transit, repair and upgrade existing infrastructure, bring transit service to new communities and modernize rail and bus fleets, including replacing thousands of vehicles with zero-emission models.

* $66 billion in passenger and freight rail, eliminating Amtrak's maintenance backlog, modernizing the Northeast Corridor and expanding service outside the Northeast and mid-Atlantic regions. Included in the package is $12 billion in partnership grants for intercity rail service, including high-speed rail. It would be the largest federal investment in public transit in history and in passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak 50 years ago.

The federal funds will be allocated primarily through US Department of Transportation programs, with some funds disbursed directly to state transportation agencies, and others awarded through competitive grants.

Transportation Safety

$11 billion, including a program to help states and localities reduce crashes and fatalities, especially of cyclists and pedestrians. It includes funding for safety efforts involving highways, trucks, and pipeline and hazardous materials.

Reconnect Communities

$1 billion to revitalize communities, which are disproportionately Black neighborhoods, that were divided by highways and other infrastructure. It includes planning, design, demolition and reconstruction of street grids, parks and other infrastructure.

Broadband

* $65 billion investment in improving the nation's broadband infrastructure.

It aims to lower the price households pay for internet service by requiring federal funding recipients to offer a low-cost affordable plan, by creating price transparency, and by boosting competition in areas where there is inadequate service. It creates a permanent federal program to help low-income households with internet access.

The White House established an Infrastructure Implementation Task Force, co-chaired by National Economic Council Director Brian Deese,and the White House Infrastructure Implementation Coordinator Mitch Landrieu. It includes OMB, the Domestic Policy Council, the Climate Policy Office and eight agencies.

Airports, Ports and Waterways

* $17 billion in port infrastructure

* $25 billion in airports to address repair and maintenance backlogs, reduce congestion and emissions near ports and airports and promote electrification and other low-carbon technologies.

* 55 billion into improving water systems and replacing lead pipes

Electric Vehicles

* $7.5 billion for zero- and low-emission buses and ferries, aiming to deliver thousands of electric school buses to districts across the country.

* $7.5 billion will go to building a nationwide network of plug-in electric vehicle chargers.

Electric Grid: $65 billion

Environment

* $50 billion to climate change protection

* $21 billion to environmental clean up

"This is what can happen when Republicans and Democrats say we're going to work together to get something done." - GOP Senator Rob Portman (Ohio), one of the bill's authors

President Biden now faces the challenge of getting his companion economic vision, the Build Back Better Act, a $1.75 trillion investment in the social safety net and climate policy.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said she hopes the US House will pass the Act this week, while Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said it hopes to see it go to the floor of the Senate by Christmas.

DemList will keep you informed.

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Kimberly Scott
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Sources: White House, CBS, CNN, NPR, Reuters

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