The on-again, off-again congressional negotiations on a major new infrastructure bill seem to be on again. Last week, the U.S. Senate voted 67-32 to begin debate on the bill’s final form.
A key group of 10 senators from each party resolved lingering disputes over a compromise package of investments in transportation, clean water, energy, broadband, and related infrastructure. The bill’s total new spending would be about $550 billion, and the total price tag about $1.2 trillion.
The environmental and clean energy investments include $66 billion for rail, $49 billion for public transit, $47 billion for climate resilience, and $15 billion for electric buses and electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Other large items related to environmental priorities include $55 billion for water infrastructure and $73 billion for electric transmission grid improvements.
A key player on the U.S. House side of the work will be North Carolina Rep. David Price, who chairs the House Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee. Price said, “While narrower than I would prefer, this compromise plan includes vital investments in roads, bridges, ports, and water infrastructure that would benefit all North Carolinians. I’m pleased to see it also includes plans to mitigate future natural disasters, like hurricanes and threats from rising sea levels, by funding climate resilience for infrastructure construction and upgrades.” He added that it was essential also to pass a broader investments package that includes additional climate and other investments.
The national League of Conservation Voters re-emphasized that last point. LCV Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld said, “While the bipartisan infrastructure bill makes some necessary investments, it also has some concerning provisions we will work to improve as the process moves forward. And it is clear that the deal does not meet the moment on climate or justice. That’s why Congress must move swiftly on a dual-track process to deliver on President Biden’s full Build Back Better agenda, including the transformative investments in climate, jobs, and justice.”