Congress Passes $1.2 Trillion Infrastructure Package

Alexandra Spath

On Friday, Congress passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which President Joe Biden will sign into law this week as a major part of his economic agenda. The bill includes $550 billion in new federal investments in U.S. infrastructure over a period of five years. 

In a press conference Saturday, President Biden called the bill “a once-in-a-generationinvestment that’s going to create millions of jobs modernizing our infrastructure — our roads,our bridges, our broadband, a whole range of things — to turn the climate crisis into anopportunity.” 

According to projections from the Congressional Budget Office, the bill will add approximately$256 billion to the federal deficit over the next decade. To finance this new spending package,the federal government will repurpose unspent COVID-19 emergency relief funds and strengthentax enforcement for cryptocurrencies. 

The bill will allocate $110 billion for roads, bridges and major infrastructure projects, along with an additional $40 billion for bridge repair, rehabilitation and replacement. Twenty percent of the highways and major roads in the U.S. are in poor condition, as are 45,000 bridges. These measures are intended to ensure safe travel and efficient transportation of goods. The bill also includes provisions to upgrade airports, ports and waterways. 

The bill allocates $39 billion to modernize and expand public transportation to meet environmental goals and rider demand. These measures would update railways and bus fleets, make transit more accessible and introduce public transportation to communities that lack it. 

The package also includes $1 billion to reconnect communities that have been divided by highways and other infrastructure projects. This issue primarily affects disproportionately Black neighborhoods. The funding will be used to plan, demolish and reconstruct street grids, parks and other infrastructure.

The improvements proposed in the infrastructure bill are in line with the Biden Administration’s climate agenda. The package includes provisions to implement zero- and low-emission buses and ferries, build a nationwide network of plug-in electric vehicle chargers and expand renewable energy. 

These efforts reflect the commitment that President Biden, European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson have made to addressing the climate crisis through infrastructure. On Nov. 11, these three world leaders endorsed five key principles for infrastructure development, the first of which states that “infrastructure should be climateresilient and developed through a climate lens.” 

The bill is intended not only to improve infrastructure and address climate change, but also tocreate new job opportunities for Americans. According to the White House, these investments,along with Biden’s Build Back Better Agenda, are projected to add around two million jobs peryear over the course of the decade. These jobs will become available in all different parts of thecountry, including areas deeply impacted by the recent decline in manufacturing jobs, and mostof them will not require a college degree. According to President Biden, “this is a blue-collar blueprint to rebuild America. And it’s long overdue.” 

While the passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is a major victory for Biden’sagenda, he has yet to secure the passage of the Build Back Better Act, a majorspending bill aimed at reducing the costs of childcare and eldercare, making healthcare and prescriptions more affordable and reducing taxes for the working class. During the pressconference on the bipartisan infrastructure package, Biden looked forward to this next piece oflegislation, saying “I’m also proud that the House took a big step toward — forward to pass myBuild Better — my Build Back Better Act, which for the week of Nov. 15, they’re goingto be taking up.”