President Biden signed into law a nearly $1 trillion infrastructure bill to repair the nation’s aging roads and bridges, upgrade the electrical grid and expand access to broadband Internet.
The bill, the largest federal investment in infrastructure in over a decade, represents a central component of Biden’s domestic-policy agenda and marks a bipartisan policy win for the White House.
“The bill I’m about to sign is proof that despite the cynics, Democrats and Republicans can come together and deliver results,” Biden said in a ceremony at the White House.
The law includes $110 billion in funding for roads, bridges and major projects, as well as $39 billion to modernize and make public transit more accessible to disabled and elderly people.
The measure sets aside $50 billion to bolster infrastructure against climate change and cyberattacks. Another $55 billion will go toward clean drinking water and $65 billion will go toward broadband infrastructure and development. The legislation invests $21 billion in removing pollution from soil and groundwater, job creation in energy communities, and economic and environmental justice. The legislation also includes $73 billion to update and expand the power grid.
The infrastructure package supplies $550 billion above projected federal spending on roads, bridges, expanded broadband access and more. A variety of revenue streams will fund this spend, including over $200 billion in unused coronavirus relief funds; about $50 billion from a delay on Medicare rebates; and $50 billion from certain states returning unused unemployment insurance supplemental funds.
The president and senior advisers will highlight the benefits of the legislation in speeches and events in the coming weeks and months
The package has caused a fissure within the GOP. House GOP leadership urged members to vote against the legislation, arguing its passage will help Democrats move the separate social-spending and climate bill that all Republicans oppose.
Former President Donald Trump expressed that Republicans who voted for the bill “should be ashamed of themselves,”adding that he would like to see GOP primary challengers for some of them.
Others are excited about what it means for the country’s infrastructure.
“I am so excited that we are finally going to have these investments into public transit and bridges and roads and clean drinking water,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D., Wash.), who leads the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
Biden tapped former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu to oversee implementing the infrastructure package.
The president also signed an executive order that assigns a task force to help implement the law and avoid waste. Several members of his cabinet will be on the task force, including Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo.
Buttigieg will oversee competitive grant programs—many of them new—in which the Transportation Department will pick recipients from applications by state and local governments.
State transportation agencies will probably see the first infusion of highway funds from the infrastructure package by December, reported Jeff Davis, senior fellow at the Eno Center for Transportation, a think tank. That money will come via regular funding formulas that the Transportation Department uses to allocate money to states.
The infrastructure legislation included a nearly 30% increase in highway formula funding.
Money for mass transit will probably wait until Congress enacts a spending bill covering the rest of the current fiscal year.
The rest of the funding—roughly $120 billion of the $550 billion in new spending—comes as competitive grants. The bill earmarks these funds for big-ticket projects such as bridge replacements or new rail lines.
Getting those grant programs up and running will take several months, which means funding announcements may not come until summer or fall of 2022.
Earlier this month, the administration said one of its first priorities would be grants for port infrastructure to help deal with a backlogged supply chain. The White House said it would begin accepting applications for $475 million in funding within 90 days.
But some transportation officials said the package would have limited near-term impact on supply chain snarls.
Congress is still debating a $2 trillion healthcare, education and climate-change package. House Democratic leadership expect a vote this week. The legislation then goes to the Senate, where senators are expected to change it.