President Biden Signs Infrastructure Bill

President Biden on Nov. 15 enacted a key piece of his domestic spending agenda when he signed a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill into law. The legislation, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, will funnel billions of dollars to state and local governments to upgrade outdated roads, bridges, transit systems and more.

According to several sources, the event — which took place in front of some 800 guests, including members of Congress, governors and state and local officials from both sides of the aisle, as well as labor and business leaders — saw the president deliver on two key campaign promises: his vow to broker legislation that could get support from both Republicans and Democrats; and his pledge to get major legislation passed to provide badly needed money for public works and infrastructure.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the package on November 6, following months of internal deliberations and painstaking divisions among Democrats. The final vote was 228-206. Thirteen Republicans voted with the majority of Democrats in support of the bill, though six Democrats voted against it. The legislation passed the Senate back in August by a 69-30 vote, but was stalled in the House as Democrats tried to negotiate a deal on a separate $1.9 trillion economic package, another key component of Biden’s agenda that many Democrats had tied to the fate of the infrastructure bill.

“Look folks, for too long, we’ve talked about having the best economy in the world,” President Biden told those in attendance prior to signing the bill. “We’ve talked about asserting American leadership around the world with the best and the safest roads, railroads, ports, airports.

“Here in Washington, we’ve heard countless speeches and promises and white papers from experts. But today, we’re finally getting this done.

“The world has changed, and we have to be ready,” he continued. “My fellow Americans, today I want you to know, we hear you and we see you. The bill I’m about to sign into law is proof that despite the cynics, Democrats and Republicans can come together and deliver results. We can do this. We can deliver real results for real people.

“So my message to the American people is this: America is moving again, and your life is going to change for the better,” Biden said.

“Victories like this are why we campaigned so hard for President Biden,” said AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler in a Nov. 6 statement following the House passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and a path forward on the Build Back Better Act. “Finally, at long last, infrastructure week is really here. Today’s final passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is a monumental political and legislative accomplishment.

“After decades of delay and decline, America’s workers stand ready to rebuild our country,” Shuler continued. “This $1 trillion investment in roads, bridges, transit, rail, climate change mitigation, electric vehicles, clean drinking water, high-speed internet, resilient transmission lines and more is centered around the creation of good union jobs.

“Yet there is still more work to be done. The Build Back Better Act will knock down the barriers that have prevented so many workers, especially women and people of color, from finding high-quality sustainable jobs,” she said. “It will make quality child care and elder care available to relieve the burden families face in getting back to work. Investments in good, clean union energy jobs will help us fight climate change and protect our communities. Improvements to our immigration system will ease the burden for those who want to call America home.

“Wealthy individuals and corporations finally will pay their fair share in taxes. And for the first time, employers will be hit with real financial penalties for union-busting, making this the most significant advancement for the right to organize since passage of the National Labor Relations Act in 1935.

“President Biden promised to be the most pro-union president in history—and today is another down payment on that promise,” Shuler said. “We are so close to making our economy fairer and safer for working people, and we can’t stop now.

“With the bipartisan infrastructure bill set to become law, the House and Senate must finish the job by sending the Build Back Better Act to President Biden’s desk,” she concluded. 

The infrastructure bill will cost $1.2 trillion over eight years, and offers more than $550 billion in new spending, including:

  • $110 billion toward roads, bridges and other much-needed infrastructure fix-ups across the country; $40 billion is new funding for bridge repair, replacement and rehabilitation and $17.5 billion is for major projects;
  • $73 billion for the country’s electric grid and power structures;
  • $66 billion for rail services;
  • $65 billion for broadband;
  • $55 billion for water infrastructure;
  • $21 billion in environmental remediation;
  • $47 billion for flooding and coastal resiliency as well as “climate resiliency,” including protections against fires, etc.;
  • $39 billion to modernize transit, which is the largest federal investment in public transit in history, according to the White House;
  • $25 billion for airports;
  • $17 billion in port infrastructure;
  • $11 billion in transportation safety programs;
  • $7.5 billion for electric vehicles and EV charging; $2.5 billion in zero-emission buses, $2.5 billion in low-emission buses, and $2.5 billion for ferries;

The bill will include language regarding enforcement of unemployment insurance fraud; and it will add $256 billion in projected deficits over 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

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