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News for December 8, 2021

Understanding The Infrastructure Bill

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The $1 trillion infrastructure plan that President Joe Biden signed into law will fund ports, bridges, roads, railway transit, safe water, power grids, broadband internet, and more.

The plan is expected to touch all corners of the United States, a report said. The White House is projecting that the investment will create about 2 million jobs per year in the next decade.

The House approved the legislation with a 228-206 vote on November 5, putting an end to the weeks of talks where liberal Democrats demanded that the legislation be linked to a larger social spending bill—an attempt to pressure moderate Democrats to back both.

The Senate approved the bill in a 69-30 vote in August, following bipartisan discussion. Thirteen House Republicans approved the legislation.

The law will provide $110 billion to repair the nation’s outdated highways, bridges, and roads. According to the White House, 173,000 total miles or close to 280,000 km of America’s highways and major roads, as well as 45,000 bridges, are in bad condition.

The $39 billion in public transportation in the legislation will expand the transportation system as well as improve accessibility for those with disabilities and grant funds to local and state authorities to purchase zero-emission and low-emission buses.

To decrease the backlog of maintenance for Amtrak, which has increased after Superstorm Sandy nine years ago, the bill would allocate $66 billion to upgrade Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor (457 miles, 735 kilometers) along with other routes.

Furthermore, the legislation would allocate $7.5 billion on electric vehicle charging stations that the administration claims are crucial to speed up the use of electric cars to reduce the impact of climate change. The bill would also designate $5 billion to fund the purchasing of electric buses for schools as well as hybrid vehicles, which will reduce the need for school buses powered by diesel fuel.

For broadband access, the legislation will fund $65 billion. It aims to boost internet service for rural areas, people with low incomes, and tribal communities. The majority of the funds would be available through grants to states.

To guard against power outages that have become frequent in the past years, the law would invest $65 billion to increase the reliability and resiliency of the power grid. It would also encourage carbon capture technology and other eco-friendly electricity sources, such as clean hydrogen.

$55 billion would be spent on water and wastewater infrastructure. It provides $15 billion for replacing lead pipes and $10 billion for the problem of water contamination caused by polyfluoroalkyl. These are chemicals used to make Teflon and are also used in firefighting foams and water-repellent clothing, and other products.

The five-year spending package will be funded by the $210 billion in unused COVID-19 relief aid, as well as $53 billion in unemployment benefits some states have ceased. Various smaller funds such as the petroleum reserve sales and spectrum auctions for 5G service will also help pay for the infrastructure fund.

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