President Biden on Wednesday rolled out the broad outline of a $2 trillion infrastructure and jobs package that he hopes to finance through tax hikes on corporations and upper middle class earners.
In his remarks unveiling the proposal, Biden said, it would mark “the moment that America won the future.”
The package will face protracted debate in Congress, where Democrats hold razor-thin margins in both the House and Senate. The spending and associated tax hikes are only likely to pass the Senate via a restrictive budget reconciliation process that circumvents the usual 60 votes required for bills.
Biden’s preliminary proposal was presented during a speech in Pittsburgh. According to a White House fact sheet, it includes:
Home care for seniors, disabled: $400 billion
The single largest item is a proposal to “put $400 billion toward expanding access to quality, affordable home- or community-based care for aging relatives and people with disabilities,” according to the fact sheet.
The plan calls for expanding long-term care covered by Medicaid to low-income people through well-paid home and community-based services.
“Caregivers – who are disproportionally women of color – have been underpaid and undervalued for far too long. Wages for essential home care workers are approximately $12 per hour, putting them among the lowest paid workers in our economy,” the White House said.
“These investments will help hundreds of thousands of Americans finally obtain the long-term services and support they need, while creating new jobs and offering caregiving workers a long-overdue raise, stronger benefits, and an opportunity to organize or join a union and collectively bargain.”
Electric vehicles: $174 billion
The second-largest pot of funding would go toward electric vehicles, including rebates and tax incentives for people who buy the cars and funds for the feds to swap out their own petroleum-fueled vehicles.
Biden’s plan “will enable automakers to spur domestic supply chains from raw materials to parts, retool factories to compete globally, and support American workers to make batteries and EVs,” the White House said.
The proposal also calls for federal grants to state and local governments and corporations to build 500,000 charging ports for electric vehicles by 2030.
Biden will “utilize the vast tools of federal procurement to electrify the federal fleet, including the United States Postal Service,” the fact sheet says.
Roads and bridges: $115 billion
Biden is proposing a significant amount of funding for traditional infrastructure projects, setting off what’s likely to be intense jockeying among lawmakers to bring home the bacon for home-state priorities.
“The President is proposing a total increase of $115 billion to modernize the bridges, highways, roads, and main streets that are in most critical need of repair. This includes funding to improve air quality, limit greenhouse gas emissions, and reduce congestion,” the White House said.
“His plan will modernize 20,000 miles of highways, roads, and main streets, not only ‘fixing them first’ but ‘fixing them right,’ with safety, resilience, and all users in mind. It will fix the most economically significant large bridges in the country in need of reconstruction, and it will repair the worst 10,000 smaller bridges, including bridges that provide critical connections to rural and tribal communities.”
Modernize water systems: $111 billion
The infrastructure plan calls for three major water system improvement plans.
A $45 billion fund would seek to fully eliminate old lead water pipes, which local governments and homeowners for decades have replaced due to toxicity issues.
A broader $56 billion proposal calls for replacing “aging water systems” that “threaten public health in thousands of communities nationwide.”
A third pot would provide $10 billion “to monitor and remediate PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) in drinking water and to invest in rural small water systems and household well and wastewater systems, including drainage fields.”
School construction: $100 billion
The Biden plan also calls for a surge in school construction funds, which is likely to face Republican skepticism on Capitol Hill.
“The President’s plan invests $100 billion to upgrade and build new public schools, through $50 billion in direct grants and an additional $50 billion leveraged through bonds,” the fact sheet says.
“These funds will first go toward making sure our schools are safe and healthy places of learning for our kids and work for teachers and other education professionals, for example by improving indoor air quality and ventilation.”
Biden’s just-signed $2 trillion COVID-19 stimulus bill contained more than $120 billion for K-12 schools, including for pandemic retrofitting. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that more than 90 percent of those funds would not be spent in 2021 because funds approved for schools in 2020 haven’t been spent.
Public transit: $85 billion
The proposal also calls for $85 billion “to modernize existing transit and help agencies expand their systems to meet rider demand.”
“This investment will double federal funding for public transit, spend down the repair backlog, and bring bus, bus rapid transit, and rail service to communities and neighborhoods across the country. It will ultimately reduce traffic congestion for everyone,” the White House said.
Amtrak repairs: $80 billion
The Amtrak-rider-in-chief is also pitching a big boost for the national passenger train network, which includes a Delaware station named in his honor.
“President Biden is calling on Congress to invest $80 billion to address Amtrak’s repair backlog; modernize the high traffic Northeast Corridor; improve existing corridors and connect new city pairs; and enhance grant and loan programs that support passenger and freight rail safety, efficiency, and electrification,” the White House said.
Broadband internet: $100 billion
The plan calls for expanding high-speed internet, which is a traditionally bipartisan issue on Capitol Hill.
This provision would aim for universal access to broadband-speed internet, including in rural areas. It would also seek “price transparency and competition” among providers “by lifting barriers that prevent municipally-owned or affiliated providers and rural electric co-ops from competing.”
Infrastructure resilience: $50 billion
Another $50 billion would go toward steeling US infrastructure against hurricanes and other natural disasters.
“People of color and low-income people are more likely to live in areas most vulnerable to flooding and other climate change-related weather events,” the White House said.
“In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, Black and Hispanic residents were twice as likely as white residents to report experiencing an income shock with no recovery support. “
The modernization drive would entail “he electric grid; food systems; urban infrastructure; community health and hospitals; and our roads, rail, and other transportation assets.”
Funds would flow through FEMA’s Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities program, the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant program and new programs through the Department of Transportation.
There would also be “a bipartisan tax credit to provide incentives to low- and middle-income families and to small businesses to invest in disaster resilience, and transition and relocation assistance to support community-led transitions for the most vulnerable tribal communities.”
The White House said that “Biden’s plan will protect and, where necessary, restore nature-based infrastructure – our lands, forests, wetlands, watersheds, and coastal and ocean resources,” including to protect against wildfires and ensure “coastal resilience to sea-level rise and hurricanes” and “support for agricultural resources management and climate-smart technologies.”
Public housing: $40 billion
The plan would add $40 billion to public housing, which has been a low federal priority for generations as public housing became associated with violent crime and urban blight.
“Years of disinvestment have left our public housing in disrepair,” the White House said.
“President Biden is calling on Congress to invest $40 billion to improve the infrastructure of the public housing system in America.,” according to the fact sheet.
“This funding will address critical life-safety concerns, mitigate imminent hazards to residents, and undertake energy efficiency measures which will significantly reduce ongoing operating expenses. These improvements will disproportionately benefit women, people of color, and people with disabilities.”
Weatherize buildings: $27 billion
The package includes a push for people upgrade their homes.
There would be block grants available and additional tax credits available for homeowners and businesses.
“President Biden’s plan also will establish a $27 billion Clean Energy and Sustainability Accelerator to mobilize private investment into distributed energy resources; retrofits of residential, commercial and municipal buildings; and clean transportation. These investments have a particular focus on disadvantaged communities that have not yet benefited from clean energy investments,” the release said.
‘Transformative’ and ‘ambitious’ projects: $25 billion
A currently ill-defined category of funding would seek to fund “transformative” projects. It’s unclear what would qualify.
“[T]he President’s plan will accelerate transformative investments, from pre-development through construction, turning ‘shovel worthy’ ideas into ‘shovel ready’ projects. This includes $25 billion for a dedicated fund to support ambitious projects that have tangible benefits to the regional or national economy but are too large or complex for existing funding programs,” the fact sheet said.
Upgrade child care facilities: $25 billion
A $25 billion allocation would go to “upgrade child care facilities and build new supply in high need areas.”
“Lack of access to child care makes it harder for parents, especially mothers, to fully participate in the workforce,” the White House said.
“In areas with the greatest shortage of child care slots, women’s labor force participation is about three percentage points less than in areas with a high capacity of child care slots, hurting families and hindering U.S. growth and competitiveness.”
The plan includes a proposal that “[e]mployers will receive 50 percent of the first $1 million of construction costs per facility so that employees can enjoy the peace of mind and convenience that comes with on-site child care.”
Airport construction: $25 billion
Another $25 billion would go toward the nation’s airports through an Airport Improvement Program, as well as “upgrades to FAA assets that ensure safe and efficient air travel, and a new program to support terminal renovations and multimodal connections for affordable, convenient, car-free access to air travel.”
Bike lanes and pedestrian safety: $20 billion
As a sub-set of the larger $115 billion for roads and bridges, the plan calls for $20 billion to “improve road safety for all users, including increases to existing safety programs and a new Safe Streets for All program to fund state and local ‘vision zero’ plans and other improvements to reduce crashes and fatalities, especially for cyclists and pedestrians.”
Connect disadvantaged neighborhoods: $20 billion
A total of $20 billion would fund “a new program that will reconnect neighborhoods cut off by historic investments and ensure new projects increase opportunity, advance racial equity and environmental justice, and promote affordable access.”
“The President’s plan will inspire basic research, like advanced pavements that recycle carbon dioxide, and ‘future proof’ investments that will last decades to leave coming generations with a safe, equitable, and sustainable transportation system,” the White House said.
Ports and ferries: $17 billion
Biden is proposing $17 billion toward “in inland waterways, coastal ports, land ports of entry, and ferries, which are all essential to our nation’s freight.”
“This includes a Healthy Ports program to mitigate the cumulative impacts of air pollution on neighborhoods near ports, often communities of color,” the release said.
Cap oil wells and old mines: $16 billion
The White House said that “[h]undreds of thousands of former orphan oil and gas wells and abandoned mines pose serious safety hazards, while also causing ongoing air, water, and other environmental damage.”
” Many of these old wells and mines are located in rural communities that have suffered from years of disinvestment,” the release said.
“President Biden’s plan includes an immediate up-front investment of $16 billion that will put hundreds of thousands to work in union jobs plugging oil and gas wells and restoring and reclaiming abandoned coal, hardrock, and uranium mines. In addition to creating good jobs in hard-hit communities, this investment will reduce the methane and brine that leaks from these wells, just as we invest in reducing leaks from other sources like aging pipes and distribution systems.”
Community colleges: $12 billion
There is a $12 billion proposal for “investing in community college facilities and technology.”
“States will be responsible for using the dollars to address both existing physical and technological infrastructure needs at community colleges and identifying strategies to address access to community college in education deserts,” the White House said.
Civilian Climate Corps: $10 billion
Winning praise from environmentalists and scorn from conservatives, Biden is proposing an anti-global warming force drawing inspiration from New Deal-era work programs.
“This $10 billion investment will put a new, diverse generation of Americans to work conserving our public lands and waters, bolstering community resilience, and advancing environmental justice through a new Civilian Climate Corps, all while placing good-paying union jobs within reach for more Americans,” the fact sheet says.
Redevelop industrial sites: $5 billion
Among the smaller expenses, $5 billion would “[r]emediate and redevelop idle real property, and spur the buildout of critical physical, social, and civic infrastructure in distressed and disadvantaged communities.”