After months of negotiations, Congress has passed President Joe Biden's $1.2 trillion infrastructure agenda — which is being touted by the White House as the "largest federal investment in public transit ever."
But what exactly is in it, and how will it affect Minnesota?
First, some background. The infrastructure bill was passed Friday by the U.S. House, about three months after the Senate passed its own version of the legislation. It's separate from the president's "Build Back Better" (BBB) proposal, which is aimed at sweeping federal investments in social and climate programs.
It was approved in a 228-206 vote, with more than a dozen Republicans breaking ranks to support it, and six Democrats voting against it (more on that below).
The next stop for the so called Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal is Biden's desk, where the president will sign it into law. So how will that $1.2 trillion — which will be doled out over eight years — be spent?
- $89.9 billion to overhaul and modernize the nation's transit infrastructure, with a goal of replacing "thousands of deficient transit vehicles, including buses, with clean, zero emission vehicles, and (improving) accessibility for the elderly and people with disabilities."
- $42 billion to upgrade the nation's airports and shipping ports "to strengthen our supply chains and prevent disruptions that have caused inflation," with a goal of reducing emissions via "electrification and other low-carbon technologies."
- $66 billion to beef up passenger rail service and make trains a key player in the transportation of both people and cargo. It's the largest investment in rail infrastructure since the creation of Amtrak 50 years ago.
- $110 billion to repair the nation's roads and bridges "with a focus on climate change mitigation, resilience, equity, and safety for all users."
- $7.5 billion to build a national network of 500,000 electric vehicle (EV) chargers. The White House says the investment would "accelerate the adoption of EVs, reduce emissions, improve air quality, and create good-paying jobs across the country."
- $55 billion to improve access to clean drinking water.
- $65 billion to expand access to reliable high-speed internet; the White House notes that some 30 million Americans live in areas without broadband infrastructure.
- $65+ billion to upgrade the nation's power infrastructure, with the aim of avoiding costly power outages and reducing emissions by installing new transmission lines and expanding the use of renewable technologies.
- $50+ billion to protect the nation's infrastructure from climate change, extreme weather events, and cyber attacks.
- $21 billion to clean up Superfund and brownfield sites — or places that have been federally designated as heavily polluted with toxic waste and other contaminants. This investment is also aimed at reclaiming abandoned mines, as well as capping orphaned oil and gas wells.
As for Minnesota's share of the investments, Rep. Dean Phillips, a Democrat who represents Minnesota's 3rd District, says the state will receive about $7 billion in "much needed" infrastructure funding:
(This pdf from the White House gets further into Minnesota's infrastructure needs and how the bill will impact these areas.)
So how will it be paid for? As Forbes reported earlier this year, Biden Administration officials have said the plan would use $250 billion in unspent Covid-19 relief funds, strengthened tax enforcement for cryptocurrencies, new revenues and "other bipartisan measures."
Nonetheless, the investment is projected to add $256 billion to the nation's budget deficit over the next 10 years, Forbes noted.
Despite the price tag, 13 House Republicans voted to support the deal, while 18 Senate Republicans — including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky — voted for the Senate's version of the bill this past August.
The only Minnesota Democrat to vote against the bill was Rep. Ilhan Omar. She, alongside the other progressive members that comprise "The Squad," said she wasn't willing to vote for the infrastructure deal without the passage of the Build Back Better Act, the Associated Press reported.
As AP notes, the six progressives "had held up the infrastructure bill to pressure moderates to back the larger bill."
However, the $3.5 trillion Build Back Better bill — which would invest heavily in childcare and childcare solutions, among other plans — is advancing towards possible passage. The House is now set to tackle BBB the week of November 15, though it "now hinges on whether moderates are satisfied by a Congressional Budget Office analysis of its impact," Deadline reports.
The news site says that if it passes the House, it will go to the Senate — where it will likely be changed "considerably" to gain the backing of all 50 senators in the Democratic caucus.