Congress Begins Process to Advance Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill

August 9, 2021

The Senate began debate on a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill that includes significant resources for roads, bridges, railways, and public transit systems.

The first week of August capped a months-long negotiation process on a bipartisan infrastructure bill when legislative language on the roughly $1.2 trillion package was finalized and released. The long anticipated 2,702-page bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (pdf) includes significant resources for roads, bridges, railways, and public transit.

While the original scope of the Biden Administration’s infrastructure proposal included resources and measures to address infrastructure outside the traditional physical infrastructure such as resources for housing and clean energy measures, the bill authorizes $550 billion in new spending to support the nation’s physical infrastructure including roads, bridges, airports, broadband and transit and is paid for via new revenue and savings measures.

What the bill includes for cities

The Senate began debate on the measure last week, which includes discussions on a myriad of amendments including several that would improve the bill for cities by providing additional flexibility for American Rescue Plan Act Funds, modify provisions to existing programs that benefit cities, and provide additional resources to address digital equity. A final vote on the package in the Senate is expected soon.

Provisions in the bill of particular interest to cities include:

  • $110 billion in new spending over five years to construct, rebuild and maintain roads and highways.
  • $105 billion in new funding to address modernization and expansion of transit and rail networks.
  • $60 billion for bridge improvements including $45 billion in federal grant funding for state and local governments to address bridges in disrepair.
  • $65 billion to increase access to broadband including $42.5 billion in federal grant funding to states to address lack of access in unserved and underserved communities.
  • $7.5 billion to build out a national network of electric vehicle chargers.
  • $17 billion in port infrastructure investments.
  • $25 billion to address repairs and maintenance at airports.
  • $50 billion to provide resources to protect against natural hazards and disasters and invest in weatherization.
  • $55 billion investment in drinking water infrastructure including dedicated funding to replace lead service lines and address PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl).
  • $21 billion investment in environmental remediation including dedicated funds for superfund and brownfield site clean up.

Next steps

Once the bill passes the Senate with the 60 votes needed, it will head to the U.S. House of Representatives for debate. House leadership has repeatedly said that it won’t move to take up the infrastructure package until the Senate passes the $3.5 trillion budget package that is intended to pass via the budget reconciliation process, which only requires a simple 51-vote majority (with Vice President Kamala Harris as the tie-breaker) in the Senate to pass and would not require any Republican support. However, the fate of the $3.5 trillion package even if it is moved via reconciliation remains unclear in a Senate divided 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans since at least one Senate Democrat has voiced opposition for the $3.5 trillion deal.

The League of Minnesota Cities and the National League of Cities continue to monitor the debate in Washington and advocate for the best interest of cities as action continues on these two significant pieces of federal legislation.

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