The U.S. House handed President Biden a victory Friday night in the form of a massive $1.2 trillion infrastructure package backed by the technology and construction industries that broke a months-long deadlock between liberal and moderate Democrats.
The measure first passed the Senate in August on a bi-partisan vote and finally cleared the House by 228-206 at 11 p.m. Friday with support from 13 Republicans and opposition from six Democrats on the left.
The measure provides $550 billion in new funding over five years including $65 billion for expanding broadband, $73 billion for modernizing the nation’s electric grid and $110 for roads and bridges. There is another $55 billion for clean water measures and $50 billion for cybersecurity protection of infrastructure.
Another $7.5 billion would go for electric vehicle charging stations with $2.5 billion for expanding the fleet of electric school buses. Also, $39 billion would go for public transit with an added $66 billion for Amtrak’s maintenance backlog and upgrade plus $42 billion for the nation’s airports.
One little noticed futuristic provision in the infrastructure bill calls for setting up a program at a cost of $75 million over five years to evaluate the feasibility of a road usage fee automatically collected from EVs and gas-powered vehicles.
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President Biden said the House passage was a “monumental step forward” and noted that infrastructure improvements will make it easier to get goods to market more quickly and reduce supply chain bottlenecks that have burdened the U.S. in recent months and pushed prices for a variety of goods higher.
“It is a great day for the nation,” the American Society of Civil Engineers declared after the vote, calling it a “historic piece of legislation that will have monumental impacts on the economy, public safety, global competitiveness and each American’s well-being.”
The House still has not voted on a separate spending plan of nearly $2 trillion that includes $550 billion for clean energy efforts supported by technology companies as well as a range of social service funding for childcare and affordable housing. Moderates pushed for a delay to the week of Nov. 15 until the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office could provide a cost estimate on the measure to see if they are consistent with projections White House and congressional tax analysts have provided.
Should the House pass the social and environmental spending plan, it would still need to clear the Senate before going to President Biden for his signature.