On March 31, President Joe Biden introduced his $2.25 trillion infrastructure bill, aimed at rebuilding the nation and creating more jobs. The funding outlined in the bill is divided into four groups.
In group one, $621 billion would be spent on improving the nation’s infrastructure. Of this, about $280 billion would be spent on renovating and modernizing roads, bridges, airports, transit projects such as Amtrak, and hospitals. This includes 20,000 miles of highways and roads and more than 10,000 bridges. $174 billion would be spent on electric vehicles, including replacing the government’s entire gas-run fleet with electric alternatives. Building resilient infrastructure to withstand climate-related disasters would cost about $50 billion. About $20 billion would be spent on reconnecting communities split by previous investments, such as rerouting a highway running through a neighborhood. These communities targeted by the bill typically have a large minority population, for example, Syracuse. The majority of the remaining money would be spent on miscellaneous projects, improving road safety (e.g., installing guardrails, fixing potholes), and renovating the transportation-on-water system.
In group two, $650 billion would be spent on improving the quality of life at home. Of this, $213 billion would be spent on building and maintaining around 2 million homes and commercial buildings. About a quarter of this will be directed towards affordable housing for the low and middle-income owners, along with $40 billion on public housing projects. $111 billion would be spent on water infrastructure. Of this, $45 billion would be used to replace all lead pipes across the nation and $56 billion to modernize drinking water, sewage water removal, and stormwater systems. $100 billion would be spent on building and modernizing public schools, with an additional $12 billion to improve community college infrastructure. Another $100 billion would be spent on building high-speed broadband networks across the nation, lowering the cost for internet nationwide and increasing the competitiveness for 5G connection. The plan also aims to spend $18 billion on VA hospitals, $25 billion on child care facilities, $16 billion on mines and oil and gas wells, and $27 billion on a “Clean Energy and Sustainability Accelerator.”
In Biden’s presentation of the bill, he stated, “For too long, caregivers have been unseen, underpaid, and undervalued.” This outlines group three: caregiving for the elderly and people with disabilities. $400 billion would be spent on improving the services and infrastructure of community-based care. To these ends, Biden also plans to expand his Medicaid program and aims to increase the pay to $12/hr for caregiver workers, many of whom are minorities.
Lastly, around $515 billion would be spent on group four: Research and Development (R&D) and manufacturing. Of this, $300 billion is directed towards supporting domestic organizations and production. To these ends, $52 billion would be spent for rural manufacturing, $48 billion for developing the American workforce and their protection, $40 billion for the Dislocated Workers Program, $46 billion for implementing clean energy. According to the White House, the plan aims to “establish the United States as a leader in climate science, innovation, and R&D” after Biden stated the U.S has “fallen back…the rest of the world is closing in and closing in fast. We can’t allow this to continue.” The plan aims at providing the National Science Foundation $50 billion and $31 billion for R&D and small businesses. Research infrastructure in laboratories will also be upgraded, which will cost around $40 billion. With regards to “climate science,” $35 billion will be spent on specific climate-crisis technology. The plan also aims to spend $30 billion to prevent future pandemics.
Biden plans to pay for the massive bill by increasing taxes, particularly those of multinational corporations. He plans to raise their taxes from 21% to 27%, the announcement of which prompted immediate backlash by the corporations. Even with the tax increases, it would take 15 years for the bill to be fully paid for, even though it would only take eight years for the money in the bill to be spent.
The bill has a very progressive theme, as it focuses on minority communities and populations and calls for many tax increases. This prompted much Republican resistance in Congress and has been called a “liberal wishlist,” deeming the racial justice and climate initiatives not as infrastructure. Although Biden aims to leave a bi-partisan legacy, this bill will be a challenging and multi-month fight and may need to ride solely on the support of Democrats.