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UPDATED: Infrastructure Bill Heads to Biden’s Desk After Weekend Vote

Nov. 8, 2021
The $1 trillion package includes billions for roads, bridges, EV charging, ports, and airports.

Update: President Biden is expected to sign H.R. 3684, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, into law at a 3 o'clock ceremony November 15. 

The U.S. House of Representatives voted late Friday to pass a $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan and send it to the President’s desk. The bill will spend billions on highways and major roads, bridges, electric-vehicle charging infrastructure, ports, airports, water storage, broadband, and pollution mitigation. It will be funded in part by unspent funds previously authorized for COVID-19 and unemployment relief by the states and reinstated Superfund fees.

Major items in the bill, according to a breakdown posted on the White House’s website, include:

·        $110 billion for major highways and roads, including $40 billion specifically for bridges

·         $66 billion for rail, including the largest investment in passenger rail since the founding of Amtrak

·         $65 billion in electric grid infrastructure

·         $65 billion in state grants to expand broadband internet access, including for rural areas

·         $55 billion on drinking water infrastructure and eliminating lead service pipes

·         $50 billion in water infrastructure to mitigate or prevent droughts, floods, and heat waves

·         $39 billion for public transit, including expanding and improving access for disabled people

·         $25 billion for airports

·         $21 billion for cleaning polluted Superfund sites, reclaim mine land, and cap old oil and gas wells.

·         $17 billion in port infrastructure

·         And $7.5 billion for electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

The measure passed by 228 votes for to 206 against, including 13 votes from Republican representatives. The minority party strenuously rejected increased spending for social welfare and health systems included in earlier versions of the bill: Democrats will attempt to pass those as part of the Congressional budget later this month.

National Association of Manufacturers CEO Jay Timmons hailed the bill as “historic” and “bipartisan” and said it would renew the physical infrastructure of the U.S.

“Failure to invest has been a drain on America’s economy, costing families and businesses significant time and money,” Timmons said. “This type of investment will enable us to continue to grow our economy and get started on building.”

The bill will be partially paid for from a number of sources, including $210 billion in unspent COVID-19 stimulus funds for the states, sales from the U.S. strategic petroleum reserve, and reinstated Superfund fees. Despite that, an analysis from the Congressional Budget Office estimated in August that the bill would add about $256 billion to the federal deficit.

The American Chemistry Council commended the bill for its infrastructure aims, but criticized it for its inclusion of Superfund excise taxes on chemical materials the Council says, ironically, are important for manufacturing and infrastructure.

“Congress has approved legislation that will help bring America’s infrastructure into the 21st century—including provisions that will spur the development and use of advanced materials that rely on chemistry, the ACC said in a statement. “But it is short-sighted to undercut such progress with new taxes on many of the critical inputs that make infrastructure modernization possible.”

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