$1 Trillion Infrastructure Bill Pours Money into Long-Delayed Needs


WASHINGTON — Amtrak would see its biggest flow of money since its founding half a century ago. Climate resilience programs would receive the largest government spending boom ever. The country’s electricity grid will be upgraded to $73 billion.

The expanding $1 trillion bill the Senate passed on Monday — 2,702-page bilateral agreement it is the product of months of negotiations and years of pent-up ambitions to repair the country’s crumbling infrastructure – the most significant government expenditure since 2009 on the aging public works system.

It’s also brimming with pet projects and priorities that touch upon nearly every aspect of American life, including the most obscure ones, such as a provision that allows blood carriers to use highway car pool lanes to bypass traffic while fresh bottles are on board. Fully fund a federal grant program to promote “pollinator-friendly practices” near roads and highways. (Price tag for the latter: $2 million per year.)

The measure represents an important part of President Biden’s economic agenda, and the deal that led to it major breakthrough in the search for a bipartisan compromise. But it was also notable for the concessions Mr. Biden had to make to reach agreement, including less funding for clean energy projects, lead pipe replacement, transit, and measures to target historically underserved communities.

Some of these provisions could be included in the expected $3.5 trillion budget plan that Democrats plan to take after completing the infrastructure bill and unilaterally circumvent Republican objections.

The infrastructure legislation, written by a group of 10 Republicans and Democrats, could still change in the coming days as other senators who want to leave their mark have a chance to propose amendments. The Senate began considering changes Monday, with more likely in the coming days.

But the law marks an important bilateral compromise, including $550 billion in new funds and the renewal of a number of existing transport and infrastructure programs that are otherwise scheduled to expire at the end of September.

As states face another year in a row worsening national disasters, from ice storms to wildfires, the measure includes billions of dollars and federal investment in the largest energy transfer in history to better prepare the country for the effects of global warming.

Most of the money will go to activities already underway, aimed at supporting the country’s ability to withstand extreme weather, but experts say the government needs to do more as threats from climate change increase. It will also fund “next generation water modeling activities” and support new approaches including flood mapping at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which will receive funding to predict wildfires.

The legislation also includes $73 billion to modernize the country’s electricity grid, which energy analysts say will lay the groundwork for turning the country off of fossil fuels. But it only includes a fraction of the money Mr. Biden has claimed for major environmental initiatives and extends a lifeline to natural gas and nuclear power, these provisions angered House progressives.

There’s also $7.5 billion in clean buses and ferries, but that’s not nearly enough to electrify nearly 50,000 transit buses in five years, as Mr. Biden promised to do. The bill includes $7.5 billion to develop EV charging stations across the country; Just half of the $15 billion that Mr. Biden has requested to meet his campaign commitment is fulfilling his commitment to build 500,000 of them.

The bill would provide $15 billion for the removal of main utility lines nationwide, compared to the $45 billion that Mr.

The legislation also includes more than $300 million to develop technology to capture and store carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and more than $6 billion to support struggling nuclear reactors. Directs the energy minister to conduct a study on job losses linked to Mr Biden’s decision to cancel the Keystone XL Pipeline.

As one of the few major bills likely to become law during this Congress, the infrastructure measure has become a magnet for lobbying by industries across the country and lawmakers who will need their votes to pass the bill, many of whom spent Monday highlighting it. funds for their top priorities.

For the quartet of senators representing legions of federal workers using the Washington Metro—Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner of Virginia and Benjamin L. Cardin and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, all Democrats—was a critical situation. $150 million annual reauthorization for the public transport system for over a decade.

The legislation would allow funding for the rebuilding of a highway in Alaska, the home state of Senator Lisa Murkowski, a key Republican negotiator. Co-Chair Gayle Manchin, West Virginia Senator III. Mr. Manchin also helped raise funds to clear abandoned mining lands in states like his.

The legislation will allocate funds for individual projects across the country, including $1 billion for the restoration of the Great Lakes, $24 million for San Francisco Bay, $106 million for Long Island Sound, and $238 million for the Chesapeake Bay.

It also includes $66 billion in new financing for the railroad to address Amtrak’s maintenance backlog, as well as upgrading the high-traffic Northeast Corridor from Washington to Boston. For Mr. Biden, an Amtrak devotee estimated 8,000 round trips it is even a step towards fulfilling the promise of injecting. billions of railroads.

While Republicans and some moderate Democrats oppose raising the nation’s growing debt, the legislation includes a number of financing mechanisms, although some financial hawks describe many of them as inadequate.

To pay for the legislation, lawmakers turned to a partially unused $200 billion from previous pandemic relief programs that went into effect in 2020.

This includes $53 billion in expanded unemployment benefits, which could be reused as the economy recovers faster than anticipated and many governments halt pandemic unemployment insurance payments over concerns that subsidies are deterring people from rejoining the workforce.

The bill redeems more than $30 billion allocated—but not spent—for a Small Business Administration disaster loan program that offers low-interest loans and small grants to qualified businesses. It was the program blocked by changing rules and redistributed bureaucracy and money much more slowly than Congress (and many applicants) expected.

Remaining funds from other defunct programs will also be reprogrammed. That includes $3 billion that was never used in relief funds for airline employees.

Marc Goldwein of the Center for Responsible Federal Budget said only $50 billion of the estimated $200 billion represents real cost savings. He said the rest were “cherry picking” figures, claiming savings on estimated costs that didn’t materialize.

Analysis of the law by the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that the law could generate revenues of $51 billion within a decade, while the Congressional Budget Office is expected to release estimates of its total cost as early as this week.

The legislation also includes tighter scrutiny over cryptocurrency by the IRS. But last-minute lobbying by industry to dilute the language has been successful, results in scaling new requirements.

Still, the provision is expected to collect $28 billion in ten years.

As the United States continues to be battered by both the toll of the coronavirus pandemic and the onslaught of wildfires, drought, floods and other air disasters, it aims to target legislative support to underserved communities that have historically needed additional federal support.

But Mr. Biden had sought $20 billion for projects designed to help. reconnect black quarters and communities of color fragmented or disadvantaged by past construction, legislation includes only $1 billion, half of which is new federal funding over five years for the program. The legislation also establishes a new $2 billion grant program to expand roads, bridges and other ground transportation projects in rural areas.

The bill will increase support for tribal governments and Native American communities and create an office within the Department of Transportation that aims to respond to their needs. It would provide $216 million to the Bureau of Indian Affairs for climate resilience and adaptation to tribal nations. disproportionately hurt with climate change. More than half of that money, $130 million, would go towards “community relocation,” which has helped some Indigenous communities move away from vulnerable areas.

It will also help improve access to running water and other sanitation requirements in tribal communities and Alaska Native villages where legislators are committed to meeting all current project needs.

“We’re still in an extreme deficit when it comes to our tribal communities,” Murkowski said in a speech to the Senate floor, adding that the level of funding is “unprecedented.” “We must do what is right for our indigenous people.”

Alongside old-fashioned public works projects like roads, bridges and highways, senators have spent $65 billion connecting hard-to-reach rural communities to high-speed internet and helping with registration. low-income city dwellers who cannot afford it. Other legislative changes aim to increase competition and transparency among service providers, which can help lower prices.

Official estimates vary, but most suggest that tens of millions of Americans lack reliable access to high-speed internet, many of whom are of color, members of rural communities or other low-income groups. That need has been exacerbated by lockdowns that require working from home and school education during the pandemic, lawmakers said.

Mr. Biden had initially offered $100 billion to reduce that number to zero, but agreed to lower the price to reach a compromise with the Republicans. Democrats also struggled to ensure the inclusion of legislation that would encourage states to ensure that access to high-speed internet is fairly distributed among traditionally underserved groups and to develop comprehensive plans to educate them on access to digital resources.

Nicholas Fandos, Lisa Friedman, Madeleine Ngo, Luke Broadwater and Stacy Cowley contributing reporting.


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