President Joe Biden released on Wednesday his American Jobs Plan that would invest about $2 trillion in transportation, utilities, schools, environmental projects, and other areas. The plan seeks historic levels of investment in national infrastructure. The president says it will also fight climate change, advance racial equity and improve American competitiveness.
President Biden proposes an additional $115 billion to modernize 20,000 miles of roadways and repair 10,000 of the nation’s smaller bridges. Another $20 billion would improve road safety and include funds for states and local governments to reduce crashes and fatalities, especially for cyclists and pedestrians.
Transit funding would double to $85 billion, and passenger and freight rail would receive $80 billion to repair and upgrade service. Airport programs would get $25 billion, and $17 billion would go to inland waterways, ports and ferries.
The president’s plan includes $20 billion for a new program to reconnect neighborhoods cut off by historic transportation investments and ensure new projects increase opportunity, advance racial equity and environmental justice, and promote affordable access. Another $25 billion would support ambitious regionally or nationally significant projects that do not fit within existing funding programs.
The plan pledges to accomplish 100% coverage for high-speed broadband infrastructure. The $100 billion investment would prioritize support for broadband networks owned by, operated by, or affiliated with local governments, nonprofits and cooperatives — providers that the administration claims face less pressure to turn profits and are committed to serve entire communities.
The proposal aims to replace 100% of the nation’s lead pipes and service lines through $45 billion in local grants. Current grant and low-cost loan programs would receive $56 billion more to improve water, wastewater, and stormwater systems. An additional $10 billion would help small, rural systems and be used for monitoring and remediating PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) in drinking water.
Community and Workforce Development
The American Jobs Plan would provide significant investments for some community and workforce development programs. It would add $213 billion to produce, preserve and retrofit more than 2 million affordable and sustainable places to live. These funds would help individual homeowners make improvements to their structures. Another $40 billion would improve the public housing system infrastructure. It also proposes a new competitive grant program to award flexible and attractive funding to jurisdictions that take steps to eliminate barriers to producing affordable housing.
A new Dislocated Workers Program would get $40 billion to provide sector-based training. An additional $12 billion would support job training, community violence prevention and new subsidized jobs for underserved communities. The proposal also includes $48 billion for expanded apprenticeships, science and technology education, and community college partnerships.
A common theme throughout the administration’s proposal relates to climate change and protecting the environment. The plan provides substantial investments in research and development, clean energy jobs, and new technologies. Historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and minority serving institutions (MSIs) would get $25 billion for research and development and research incubators.
The proposal includes $16 billion to plug orphaned oil and gas wells and restore and reclaim abandoned coal, hard rock, and uranium mines. Another $5 billion would help local governments remediate and redevelop brownfields and environmental superfund sites.
The 27-page summary document includes many other provisions, such as funding for public schools, community colleges, childcare facilities, Veterans Affairs hospitals and other federal buildings. Nearly $300 billion would support manufacturers, small businesses, innovation hubs, and rural capacity building. Of that, $30 billion would support measures to prepare for a future public health emergency.
The plan would also attempt to safeguard and bolster employee unions, although many federal grant programs already require local officials to pay federal prevailing wage rates. Corporate tax rate changes would raise $2 trillion over 15 years, according to the proposal.
The close partisan divide in Congress makes any legislation more challenging, especially one of such size. Some Democratic leaders have suggested using the FY 2022 budget reconciliation process to prevent a filibuster in the Senate. House and Senate Democrats used FY 2021 budget reconciliation measures to pass the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan just weeks ago. Not a single Republican supported the measure.
While the administration hopes its infrastructure package can receive bipartisan support, initial indicators suggest another partisan fight. “This is not going to be an infrastructure package,” said Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) Wednesday in Erlanger. “It’s like a Trojan horse. It’s called ‘infrastructure,’ but inside the Trojan horse is going to be more borrowed money and massive tax increases on all the productive parts of our economy.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said she hopes to have the plan passed by July 4.