By a Biometrica staffer
On Tuesday, Aug. 10, the Senate passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, a long-awaited, $1 trillion bipartisan bill, sending it onto the House for approval. All 50 Democrats voted in favor, joined by 19 Republicans. This is the first large-scale infrastructure package to be passed in decades and many of the measures within were at the center of President Joe Biden’s campaign promise to rebuild the nation.
“After years and years and years of ‘Infrastructure Week,’ we’re on the cusp of an infrastructure decade that I truly believe will transform America,” President Biden said in his remarks about the bill passing. Over the last few years, the country’s crumbling infrastructure has often come under the spotlight, and investing in it is long overdue according to some. For instance, the White House says that around 173,000 miles, or 20% of the nation’s highways and 45,000 bridges are in poor condition and require upgrading.
Under the package that took over a month to negotiate, around $550 billion in new funds will be directed towards upgrading deteriorating transportation systems, including highways, bridges, and tunnels. Specifically, around $100 billion will go to roads and bridges, $39 billion to transit, $25 billion to airports, $66 billion to freight and passenger rail, $46 billion to making infrastructure more resistant to extreme weather events and climate change, and around $11 billion to boosting transportation safety and reducing accidents and crashes.
The legislation has a number of provisions directed at trucking as well, allowing for apprenticeships for truckers younger than 21 to operate commercial vehicles across state lines and increased research into enhancing the safety of commercial vehicles. Its passage was lauded by many in the freight and transport industries. According to the President, “This bill is going to put people to work modernizing our roads and our highways and our bridges so commuters and truckers don’t lose time in traffic, saving billions of dollars nationally.”
Last week, the Congressional Budget Office said the measure will likely add $256 billion to the country’s deficit over the next ten years. Congress and the White House say the bill will pay for itself, relying mostly on unused Covid-19 relief funds like the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, the Paycheck Protection Program, and the Education Stabilization Fund. According to legislators, the bill will generate around $56 billion in economic growth over the long-term.
The Senate delayed its August recess to continue working on the bill over the weekend, and some lawmakers in the House are now saying that they may cut their own recess short and return in two weeks on Aug. 23 (instead of Sept. 20, as previously scheduled). House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said that the House will not vote on the deal until the Senate passes a separate set of social safety net measures.
According to polls, the public seems to be largely in favor of the bill, with one finding that around 65% of Americans support it.