A Look at What’s in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal
After weeks of debate and discussion, the White House and a bipartisan group of senators said on Wednesday they had reached agreement on an infrastructure bill.
The $ 1,000 billion package is far smaller than the $ 2.3 trillion plan President Biden originally proposed and would provide roughly $ 550 billion in new federal funds for transit, roads, bridges, l water and other physical projects over the next five years, according to a White House fact sheet. This money would be concocted through a series of measures, including the “reallocation” of stimulus funds already approved by Congress, the sale of public spectrum, and the recovery of federal unemployment funds from states that earlier ended unemployment benefits. pandemic more generous.
Although Mr Biden admitted that “neither side got everything they wanted,” he said the deal would create new union jobs and make significant investments in public transport.
“This agreement signals to the world that our democracy can work, deliver and do great things,” Biden said in a statement. “As we did with the transcontinental railroad and the interstate highway, we will transform America again and propel us into the future.”
Lawmakers have yet to release the legislative text for the bill, and although the Senate voted to move it forward in a first vote on Wednesday night, it still faces several hurdles. But if passed, the package would mark an important step towards repairing the country’s crumbling infrastructure and preparing it for the 21st century.
Here’s a look at the bipartisan group’s deal for the final package.
Financing of roads and bridges
The package provides $ 110 billion in new funding for roads, bridges and other major projects. The funds would be used to repair and rebuild with a “focus on climate change mitigation,” according to the White House.
This funding would only begin to reduce some of the country’s urgent infrastructure needs, according to transport experts. The most recent estimate from the American Society of Civil Engineers found that the country’s roads and bridges have a backlog of $ 786 billion in needed repairs.
Road and pedestrian safety programs will receive $ 11 billion under the agreement. Road deaths, which have increased during the pandemic, have particularly affected people of color, according to a recent analysis by the Governors Highway Safety Association. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the number of road fatalities among blacks jumped 23% in 2020 from the previous year. In comparison, road fatalities among whites increased by 4% over the same period.
The deal also includes dedicated funding to “reconnect communities” by removing highways or other past infrastructure projects that cut through black neighborhoods and other communities of color. Although Mr Biden initially offered to invest $ 20 billion in the new program, the latest deal only includes $ 1 billion.
Investments in public transport
Public buses, subways and trains would receive $ 39 billion in new funds, which would be used to repair aging infrastructure and modernize and expand transit service across the country.
As the amount of new funding for transit has been slashed from a June proposal, which included $ 49 billion, the Biden administration said it would be the largest federal investment in transportation. in common history.
Still, the funds may not be enough to completely modernize the country’s transit system. According to a report by the American Society of Civil Engineers, there is a backlog of $ 176 billion in transit investments.
Big investments in rail and freight lines
The deal would inject $ 66 billion into rail to bridge Amtrak’s maintenance backlog, as well as upgrading the heavily trafficked northeastern corridor from Washington to Boston (a route frequented by lawmakers on the East Coast). It would also extend rail service outside of the northeast and central Atlantic.
Mr. Biden frequently points out his connection to Amtrak, which began in the 1970s, when he returned home from Washington, Delaware each night to care for his two sons while serving in the Senate. The new funding would be the biggest investment in passenger rail transport since Amtrak was created 50 years ago, the administration says, and comes as the agency tries to significantly expand its service nationwide by 2035.
Clean water initiatives
The package would invest $ 55 billion in clean water, which would be enough to replace all lead pipes and service lines in the country. While Congress banned lead water pipes three decades ago, more than 10 million old ones remain, resulting in dangerous lead levels in cities and towns across the country.
Reinforcement of electric vehicles
To combat the effects of climate change, the deal would invest $ 7.5 billion in building the nation’s network of electric vehicle charging stations, which could help incentivize more drivers to switch to such cars as they move forward. ridding the so-called deserts of loaders. The package would also expand the US fleet of electric school buses by investing $ 2.5 billion in zero-emission buses.
How to pay the expenses has been one of the more controversial areas, with Republicans opposed to Mr. Biden’s plan to raise taxes and empower the IRS to help pay for the package. Instead, the bipartisan group agreed to a series of so-called payments that largely reallocate already approved funds, rely on accounting changes to raise funds, and in some cases assume projects will eventually pay for themselves.
The biggest source of funding is $ 205 billion which the group says will come from “the reallocation of some Covid relief dollars”. The government has approved trillions of pandemic stimulus funds, and much, but not all, has been allocated. The proposal does not specify how much money will be reallocated, but Republicans have been pushing the Treasury Department to take back funds from the $ 350 billion Democrats approved in March to help states, local governments and tribes do facing the costs associated with the pandemic.
It is assumed that an additional $ 53 billion will come from states that earlier ended more generous federal unemployment benefits and return that money to the Treasury Department. An additional $ 28 billion is linked to the requirement for stronger cryptocurrency reporting, and $ 56 billion is expected to come from economic growth “resulting in a 33% return on investment in these infrastructure projects at long term”.
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