reconciliation-transportation

How the House spending bill funds additional infrastructure

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Articles in this guide describe key features of legislation passed by the House to advance President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda and overhaul social and climate policy in the United States. The bill now moves to the Senate.

President Biden has signed into law a major infrastructure bill, and the House bill directs additional money toward infrastructure goals.

  • The bottom line: The infrastructure package launches a vast new effort to improve the nation’s transportation networks, water and power systems, and Internet connections. The new social and climate bill goes beyond that with spending on high-speed rail and public transit near affordable housing.
  • What critics say: While more than a third of Senate Republicans backed the infrastructure law, few House Republicans voted for it. Republican critics have raised fiscal and philosophical objections to progressive priorities in the budget bill, including billions more dollars for electric vehicle incentives and transit.
  • Senate prognosis: Although funding for ports, sewer upgrades and high-speed rail in the budget bill would benefit many areas, Democrats expect no Republican support. Biden and Senate Democrats agreed on a framework, but sparring over the scope of plans could emerge.

The bipartisan $1.2 trillion law, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, has hundreds of billions of dollars in spending for roads and other major projects, including what the White House says is the largest investment in building and fixing bridges since construction of the interstate highway system in the 1950s. It also has what officials call the biggest investments in transit and clean electricity transmission in U.S. history. There are also billions of dollars for replacing lead pipes and expanding high-speed Internet access.

The new social and climate bill goes beyond that. It includes $10 billion each for high-speed rail and transit tied to affordable housing. It includes $4 billion to repair communities divided by past transportation projects and to help prevent gentrification and displacement of residents. It also has an estimated $20 billion in incentives for consumer and commercial electric vehicles to cut down soaring transportation emissions that help drive climate change. The Democrats’ framework also includes $150 billion for building and improving at least 1 million affordable homes, according to the White House. Here are the most consequential initiatives in the pair of packages.

Budget bill

$10 billion for an affordable housing access program: These funds in the new budget bill would be overseen jointly by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Federal Transit Administration, with the goal of improving quality of life for lower-income transit riders, including by expanding service and cutting fares.

$10 billion for high-speed rail investments: This money in the budget bill would go toward developing high-speed rail corridors, with an emphasis on trains that would travel at least 160 mph on shared tracks and 186 mph on dedicated tracks.

$4 billion for community climate incentive grants: The budget bill calls for the Federal Highway Administration to require states to measure their greenhouse gases related to transportation and set goals for reducing them. It includes nearly $1 billion in incentive grants for states that make major progress cutting emissions, according to a congressional description, plus $3 billion more for local governments and other nonstate entities to undertake similar efforts.

Infrastructure law

$66 billion for intercity rail: The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act promises to speed up and expand Amtrak and other rail service to new cities and make improvements in the heavily traveled Northeast Corridor. That figure is equal to the last 18 years of funding for the Federal Railroad Administration, according to Jeff Davis, a senior fellow at the Eno Center for Transportation in D.C.

$90 billion for transit: Light-rail lines, subways and bus services are set for a major expansion under the law, with broad implications for efforts to relieve congestion, build up communities around stations and to provide an alternative to driving.

$351 billion for Federal Highway Administration: The five years of funding in the infrastructure law, as tallied by Eno, would flow to states and be shaped by local needs, bringing federal support to everything from routine resurfacing projects to bridge replacements and major highway expansions. Transportation experts say the money could put a dent in long-overdue maintenance needs, or be spent on road-widening and miles of new highways, depending on the priorities of local politicians and planners.

$7.5 billion for electric vehicle charging stations: The network of plug-in locations funded in the law would line highways and dot communities with stations, with a focus on disadvantaged and rural areas, and places that are particularly hard to reach.

$55 billion for clean water: All of the nation’s lead pipes and service lines would be replaced under the program funded in the law. It would also address toxic chemicals in drinking water.

$65 billion for broadband: Comparing its plans in the law to an effort to stretch power lines across the nation nearly a century ago, the administration says Internet infrastructure would be erected to serve millions who have limited or no access today. A new affordable connectivity benefit would help millions of others pay for service.

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