Biden to Sign Historic Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act

While the “human infrastructure” bill known as the “Build Back Better Act” will unfortunately have to wait a little longer, Saturday marked an historic day in America when House Democrats finally passed the “Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.”

President Joe Biden explained:

“The House of Representatives passed an Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. That’s a fancy way of saying a bipartisan infrastructure bill, once-in-a-generation investment that’s going to create millions of jobs, modernize our infrastructure, our roads, our bridges, our broadband, a range of things turning the climate crisis into an opportunity, and a put us on a path to win the economic competition of the 21st century that we face with China and other large countries in the rest of the world.”

He added:

“We’re looking more forward to having shovels in the ground, to begin rebuilding America.

“For all of you at home, who feel left behind and forgotten in an economy that’s changing so rapidly, this bill is for you. The vast majority of those thousands of jobs that will be created don’t require a college degree. There’ll be jobs in every part of the country: red states, blue states, cities, small towns, rural communities, tribal communities.

“This is a blue-collar blueprint to rebuild America, and it’s long overdue.”

Thirteen republicans and six Democrats opposed the measure that passed 228-206.

Despite holding the majority in the House of Representatives, a narrow majority in the Senate, and the White House, Democratic West Va. Sen. Joe Manchin and Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema for months railed against the bill, claiming it and the forthcoming Build Back Better bill would “Make the real cost of the so-called $1.75 trillion bill estimated to be almost twice that amount.

Biden, though, pushed back, asserting:

“It’s fiscally responsible. It’s fully paid for. It doesn’t raise the deficit by a single penny. And it actually reduces the deficit according to the leading economists in this country over the long term. And it’s paid for by making sure that the wealthiest Americans, the biggest corporations begin to pay their fair share.

“We got out of the blue a couple of weeks ago a letter from 17 Nobel prize winners in economics and they determined that [the two bills] will ease inflationary pressures not create them.”

Here is what the bill Biden is going to sign next week contains:

  • Roads, bridges, and other infrastructure projects: $110 billion with $40 billion for bridge repair, replacement, and rehabilitation; $17.5 billion for other major projects;
  • Electric grid and power structures: $73 billion;
  • Rail service: $66 billion;
  • High-speed broadband: $65 billion;
  • Water infrastructure $55 billion;
  • Environmental remediation: $21 billion;
  • Coastal and climate resiliency and flooding protection: $47 billion;
  • The most massive federal investment in public transit in history: $39 billion;
  • Airports: $25 billion;
  • Port infrastructure: $17 billion;
  • Transportation safety programs: $11 billion;
  • Electric vehicles and EV charging stations: $7.5 billion;
  • Zero-emission and low-emission buses, and ferries: $2.5 billion apiece;

There will also include language about unemployment insurance fraud enforcement.

The “Build Back Better Act” will be part-two–the human infrastructure–component to this, seeking to include:

  • Another year of the expanded child tax credit households have been receiving every 15th of each month since July;
  • Six years of universal pre-kindergarten for 3- and 4-year-olds, and child-care subsidies for poorer and middle-income Americans;
  • $40 billion for higher education and workforce development, including increasing Pell Grants, funding historically Black colleges and universities (HCBU) and institutions that serve mostly Hispanic students or tribal communities;
  • Medicare expansion to cover hearing aids;
  • Expanded tax credits for insurance premiums tied to the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) through 2025;
  • $150 billion for home health care paid through Medicaid;
  • $90 billion is investments for maternal health, community violence initiatives, disadvantaged farmers, nutrition and pandemic preparation;
  • a $2,000 cap on out-of-pocket Medicare Part D costs and a reduction in insulin price to no more than $35 a dose;
  • a Medicare drug negotiation program;
  • a 7% income tax cap on child care for parents earning up to 250% of a state’s median income;
  • $150 billion toward housing affordability and a goal of building more than one million new rental and single-family homes;
  • $320 billion worth in clean energy tax credits intended to help businesses and homeowners transition to renewable energy sources;
  •  $105 billion toward community investment in climate change-fueled extreme weather preparation;
  •  $110 billion toward new domestic supply chains, development in new solar and battery technologies, and support for present steel, cement, and aluminum industries;
  • $20 billion for government purchasing of clean energy technologies as part of its procurement process;
  • $9 billion for replacement of lead water lines or school drinking water systems contaminated with lead;
  • Improvements to the IRS’ efforts to improve collections and close the gap between taxes owed and paid;
  • A 15% minimum income tax for large corporations and with a 1% surcharge on corporate stock buybacks, putting the United States in agreement with more than 100 countries seeking to dissuade multinational companies from hiding profits in low-tax nations;
  • A surtax on multimillionaires and billionaires and closing a loophole that allows some wealthy taxpayers to avoid paying the 3.8% Medicare tax;
  • Raising to $72,500 from $10,000 the state and local tax (SALT) deductions that were decreased as part of the 2017 “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act“;
  • A provision allowing those who entered the United States prior to Jan. 2, 2011 and have continuously resided here since to be eligible for renewable five-year parole grants after paying an administrative fee and undergoing security and background checks, allowing them to travel, work, and be eligible for states’ identification, including drivers’ licenses;
  • Four weeks of paid leave for eligible workers to care for a new child, recover from an illness, or care for a relative.

Image credit: Joshua Sukoff via Unsplash

Ted Millar is writer and teacher. His work has been featured in myriad literary journals, including Better Than Starbucks, The Broke Bohemian, Straight Forward Poetry, Caesura, Circle Show, Cactus Heart, Third Wednesday, and The Voices Project. He is also a contributor to The Left Place blog on Substack, Liberal Nation Rising, and Medium.