Yesterday, the Biden Administration and a bipartisan group of senators that had been charged with leading negotiations announced that they have struck a deal on an infrastructure bill. The bill, the summary of which can be found here and the fact sheet can be found here, touts $550 billion in new spending over the next 5 years. In particular, the bill pledges funding for the following key programs:
- $110 billion – Roads, bridges, & major projects
- $66 billion – Passenger and freight rail
- $11 billion – Safety
- $39.2 billion – Public Transit
- $65 billion – Broadband
- $17.3 billion – Ports and Waterways
- $25 billion – Airports
- $55 billion – Water Infrastructure
- $73 billion – Power and Grid
- $46 billion – Resiliency
- $7.5 billion – Low-Carbon and Zero-Emission School Buses & Ferries
- $7.5 billion – EV and Low-Carbon School Buses & Ferries
The agreement was negotiated by a bipartisan coalition. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D—NY) put forward a procedural motion, a cloture vote, this evening (July 28th) to clear the way for underlying bill’s consideration. Senate Republican Leader McConnell (R-KY) and a number of his Republican colleagues voted in favor of cloture because Senator Schumer made a commitment to Senators Portman and Sinema to allow the Portman-Sinema amendment to be filed as the substitute amendment. The cloture vote was by a margin of 67-32.
It is important to keep in mind that key components of the bill are still being finalized. The bill text in its entirety will be released once those aspects are completed, according to Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (R-AZ). Additionally, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) wouldn’t commit to passage in the House without changes since she has not yet seen the full scope of the bill. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) is demanding changes to the Senate version of the bill that includes funding for both climate-based initiatives and earmarked district projects.
Issues on transit funding, water projects, and broadband were crucial roadblocks faced by both Senate negotiators and the Biden Administration in the days leading up to this announcement.
On transit funding, the bill allocates $39.2 billion in funding toward the national transit system repair backlog, expanding over 24,000 buses, 5,000 buses, 200 stations, and thousands of miles of track, signals, and power systems. These vehicles will also gradually be replaced with those that produce zero emissions, and improvements in accessibility for the elderly and people with disabilities were also promoted in this section.
On water infrastructure, $23.4 billion is allocated towards the Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act. Funding is also directed toward issues regarding PFAS and lead remediation. $1.8 billion would be spent on supplementing Tribal communities via the Indian Health Services Sanitation Facilities Construction program as well as fully funding all currently authorized Indian Water Rights Settlements.
Similarly, on Resiliency and Western Water Infrastructure, $50 billion is directed towards addressing climate change impacts and cyberattacks on key infrastructure projects.
On broadband, funding for grants have been allocated for broadband development and accessibility by enabling eligible private activity bond projects to include broadband infrastructure. The funding will also support middle-mile deployment efforts.
The largest allocation of funding, $110 billion for roads, bridges, & major projects, also includes the reauthorization of surface transportation programs for the next five years. Major projects, particularly those on roads and bridges, place a special emphasis on climate change mitigation, safety, and equity. Funds will be used to establish a grant program focused on replacing and repairing bridges and increasing funding towards major project competitive grant programs. This section of the bill also re-allocates funds towards federal highway aid to states, as has been done in the past.
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