President Biden has unveiled his long-awaited infrastructure plan, calling on what he describes as a generational investment in our nation’s most critical assets and the largest infrastructure package that this country has seen in over five decades. The $2.2 trillion, eight-year, American Jobs Plan will go a long way to ensure that our nation’s infrastructure continues to improve in the upcoming decade and ASCE applauds President Biden his truly historic proposal.
Overall, the President’s plan invests an additional 1 percent of GDP per year over eight years to upgrade our nation’s infrastructure, revitalize manufacturing, invest in basic research and science, shore up supply chains, and solidify our care infrastructure. Additionally, the focus is rightly on tackling the maintenance backlog for our transportation, water, and freight systems, enabling “shovel worthy” ideas to get across the finish line, ensuring new projects result in systems that are more resilient, investing in transmission lines to connect the grid, and reflects that our infrastructure is truly a connected system that is only as strong as its weakest link. Therefore, beyond raising the ASCE Report Card for America’s Infrastructure grades, the investments proposed in the American Jobs Plan could result in long-term economic gains for American families and businesses.
The American Jobs Plan would cut significantly into the 10-year, $2.59 trillion funding gap that ASCE has identified and ensures that the federal government is working with state and local governments to make these much-needed investments. As the nation looks to revitalize and jumpstart the economy after the COVID-19 downturn, ASCE believes that infrastructure investment is the key to long-term recovery and prosperity, as well as providing access and opportunity to communities across the country.
Some of the highlights of the bill that tie directly to ASCE priorities include:
- $621 billion in transportation infrastructure and resilience.
- $115 billion to modernize the bridges, highways, roads, and main streets that are in most critical need of repair.
- $20 billion to improve road safety for all users.
- $85 billion to modernize existing transit.
- $80 billion to address Amtrak’s repair backlog.
- $174 billion investment in the EV market.
- $25 billion in our airports, including funding for the Airport Improvement Program
- $17 billion in inland waterways, coastal ports, land ports of entry, and ferries, which are all essential to our nation’s freight.
- $20 billion for a new program that will reconnect neighborhoods cut off by historic transportation investments.
- $25 billion for a dedicated fund to support ambitious projects that have tangible benefits to the regional or national economy but are too large or complex for existing funding programs.
- $50 billion in dedicated investments to improve infrastructure resilience with a focus on safeguarding critical infrastructure and defending vulnerable communities.
- $111 billion to rebuild drinking water infrastructure:
- Replace 100% of lead drinking water lines with $45 billion EPA investment through the drinking water state revolving loan fund and Water Infrastructure Improvements for the National Act grants.
- $10 billion to monitor and remediate PFAS.
- $56 billion in grants and loans to upgrade and modernize drinking water, wastewater and stormwater systems.
- $100 billion for power infrastructure:
- An expanded direct-pay investment tax credit and production tax credit for clean energy generation and storage.
- $16 billion to plug orphan oil and gas wells and cleaning up abandoned mines.
- $5 billion investment in the remediation and redevelopment of Brownfield and Superfund sites
- $100 billion to upgrade and build new public schools, especially improving indoor air quality and ventilation.
- $100 billion to reach 100 percent high-speed broadband coverage and make such coverage affordable.
- $35 billion investment in research into climate science.
As we look ahead, it is important to note that Congress still needs to develop and introduce legislation, so the American Jobs Plan is a starting point and many still hope for bipartisan legislation. However, due to the proposed pay-fors, primarily a roll-back of the Trump era corporate tax cuts, many expect that Democrats will attempt to move the plan under budget reconciliation procedures to improve the chances of passage. If Congress does move the bill under budget reconciliation, it means that the infrastructure package will not be able to contain the surface transportation reauthorization bill’s policy changes, and that bill will need to move separately before the FAST Act expires on September 30th. The surface transportation reauthorization and addressing the solvency of the Highway Trust Fund will also require its own pay-for, as the Highway Trust Fund will not be able to support a multi-year bill at the current gas tax rate.
What we do know is that the upcoming weeks and months will be critical as Congress debates a final bill. President Biden’s proposal is one of the first opportunities in years to see significant investments in our nation’s infrastructure and ASCE looks forward to working with both the Administration and Members of Congress on this crucial, bipartisan, issue.