President Joe Biden on Monday signed into law one of the largest infrastructure packages in U.S. history after months of bipartisan negotiations and tense political infighting, shoring up $1.2 trillion in funds, including $550 billion in new investments for the nation’s bridges, airports, waterways, public transit and more—here’s what you need to know about where the massive new spending will go.
Roads and bridges: Headlining the 2,702-page bill’s spending, roughly $110 billion of new funds would go toward improving the nation’s roads and bridges, and investments in other major transportation programs.
Public transit: The package also includes the largest-ever federal investment in public transit, allotting $39 billion to modernize systems, improve access for the elderly and people with disabilities, and repair more than 24,000 buses, 5,000 railcars and thousands of miles of train tracks.
Amtrak: The legislation marks the largest investment in passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak 50 years ago, with $66 billion earmarked for high-speed rail, safety improvements, Amtrak grants and modernization of the rail route connecting Washington, D.C., to Boston.
Broadband internet: Tacking on to billions authorized by last year’s American Rescue Plan, the infrastructure bill includes $65 billion to bolster the country’s broadband infrastructure and help ensure that every American has access to high-speed internet, with one in four households expected to be eligible for a $30-per-month subsidy to pay for internet access.
Electric grid and energy: Though many clean-energy measures were cut from the bill to satisfy spending-weary lawmakers, a $108 billion investment will help upgrade the nation’s electricity grid, with thousands of miles of new transmission lines and funds for environmentally friendly smart-grid technology.
Electric cars, buses and ferries: In addition to $7.5 billion for the nation’s first network of electric-vehicle chargers along highway corridors, lawmakers have shored up $5 billion for zero-emission buses (including thousands of electric school buses) and $2.5 billion for ferries.
Clean drinking water: Following high-profile water-supply crises plaguing cities like Flint, Michigan, the legislation includes a provision for $55 billion to replace all the nation’s lead pipes and service lines, representing the largest investment in clean drinking water ever.
Great rivers and lakes: Among the bill’s more than $50 billion for water infrastructure improvements, about $1 billion is slated to go toward the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, a sweeping clean-up measure targeting toxic hot spots—or areas of heavy industrial pollution—around the Great Lakes region, and $17 billion will be allocated to ports and waterways.
Airports: More than $25 billion has been allocated to help modernize America’s airports—funds the Airports Council International says will help tackle more than $115 billion worth of project backlogs.
Road safety: The deal invests $11 billion in transportation safety programs, including a new program to help states and localities reduce crashes and fatalities in their communities, particularly among cyclists and pedestrians.
Normal funding: In addition to the $550 billion in new investments, the package also includes roughly $650 billion in previously authorized funding for roads and other infrastructure, including nearly $300 billion for the Highway Trust Fund and $90 billion for public transit over the next five years.
Biden signed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act Monday afternoon, nearly two weeks after it passed the House in a vote of 228 to 206, with 13 Republicans joining 215 Democrats in support of the bill. The Senate first approved the bill in August. “America is moving again,” Biden said before signing the bill Monday. The president also announced Brian Deese, director of the National Economic Council, and Mitch Landrieu, a former mayor of New Orleans, will lead a task force overseeing how infrastructure funds are distributed and implemented.
Though Biden first released his infrastructure proposal in March, months of bipartisan negotiations yielded about $800 billion in cost cuts. Lawmakers ultimately agreed to cut the infrastructure bill’s investments by as much as 50% across the board, with overall transportation funding settling at about $312 billion, from $621 billion originally proposed, and water and power funds falling from $210 billion to about $125 billion.
Despite its bipartisan support, the sweeping infrastructure measure faced tough opposition from both sides of the aisle. For months, Senate Democrats eager to bolster clean-energy funding hashed it out with Republicans queasy over heightened spending, until finally agreeing on a slimmed-down proposal in June. However, House progressives then threatened to withhold support for the bill if lawmakers didn’t also move forward with Biden’s separate Build Back Better budget proposal, which would authorize spending for Democratic priorities that didn’t make it into the infrastructure package. Though Democrats hope to use the Senate’s special reconciliation process to pass the budget without Republican support, moderate Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) both balked at the originally proposed price tag of $3.5 trillion, citing concerns over heightened spending. Thus far, negotiations have yielded a less costly $1.8 trillion proposal.
$256 billion. That’s how much the Congressional Budget Office estimates the infrastructure bill could add to the nation’s budget deficit over the next 10 years, meaning nearly half of the package’s proposed new spending could end up tacked on to the nation’s $29 trillion debt load. When announcing the proposal in July, the White House said the new spending would be funded with more than $250 billion in unspent Covid-19 relief funds, strengthened tax enforcement, new revenues and “other bipartisan measures.” It did not mention additional debt.
What To Watch For
The House earlier this month cleared the way for a vote on the Build Back Better budget proposal as soon as this week, but even if the bill makes it past the lower chamber, Manchin and Sinema have yet to explicitly support it. Earlier this month, Manchin said Democrats “must allow time for complete transparency and analysis” on the bill before moving it forward, joining other moderates in demanding the Congressional Budget Office release its financial analysis of the bill before a vote on the matter. On Monday, CBO said it would publish its full assessment by the end of Friday.