The Senate passed President Biden's infrastructure bill, and several large construction projects are the biggest benefactors. Amtrak will get a major update for the first time in fifty years, a climate resilience program will be funded for the first time, and our power grid will get a needed upgrade. It is the most money spent on a public works project in nearly a decade.
Transportation is a major part of this bill. Carpool lanes will get upgraded rules and highways will get some federal grant money. The bipartisan effort that leaves out money for clean energy projects, transit, and lead pipe replacement that the president wanted. However, Biden did get the funding to better prepare states for the effects of global warming, such as wildfires and flooding.
Most of the money earmarked for disaster preparation will continue projects already started, which many feel is not enough to offset the risk. Projects to predict disasters like floods and wildfires got preference over projects that might prevent them- to the frustration of some. Nevertheless, if it can pass the house, it will be a much-needed influx of money to the United States' aging infrastructure.
$73 billion was allocated to modernize the country's electrical grid, putting the US on a much more competitive footing with greener European countries. Although the bill does not fund as many green projects as progressives would like, there is money for electric buses and ferries. There is also money set aside for natural gas and nuclear energy to court conservatives, which puts the bill in danger with progressives in the House.
The Biden administration promised more charging stations across America, and the bill does provide them, but not as many as the president wanted. There is also less money than wanted to remove lead pipes across the country, which was a campaign pledge that may not come true. However, struggling nuclear reactors will also get some much-needed financing and are fully funded by the bill.
This bill has been under intense scrutiny by lobbyists as it's one of the few major bills that have a chance to pass Congress this session. As a result, transit systems in Virginia and Maryland got money to update their systems. Alaska and West Virginia both secured funding to upgrade their highway system. West Virginia will also receive money to help clean up abandoned mines in its state, and rail systems across the country will benefit from money to improve their system.
The President claimed the bill would pay for itself. Still, the Congressional Budget Office, Congress's official scorekeeper, found that the bill would add billions to the federal deficit over the next ten years, which concerns Republicans and moderate Democrats. Part of the funding will come from leftover pandemic funding, which went unused as the country rebounded faster than expected. It is also funded by money set aside for a Small Business Administration disaster loan program that never got off the ground.
However, many are worried that it will still be too expensive, and the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a nonpartisan fiscal watchdog group, said that these funds would only pay for a quarter of the bill. It is unclear whether the House has the will to spend the money the bill would cost. Many in the House have already declared the bill too expensive to pass as it currently stands.
That said, with the country still reeling from the pandemic and an onslaught of natural disasters, the President claims this bill will provide some relief. Moreover, with legislation also creating a new $2 billion grant program to expand roads, bridges, and other surface transportation projects in rural areas and improve roads in urban areas, the president hopes to reach out to communities not normally served by transportation bills. Whether the bill will pass the House, however, is still in question.
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