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Biden Signs $1.2 Trillion Infrastructure Spending Plan


U.S. President Joe Biden reacts as he signs the "Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act", on the South Lawn at the White House in Washington, U.S., November 15, 2021. (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)
Biden Signs $1 Trillion Infrastructure Spending Plan
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American President Joe Biden signed into law Monday a $1.2 trillion spending plan to provide money for a wide group of purposes. They include developing roads, bridges, ports, transportation, water projects, internet service and other things across the United States.

Speaking from the White House in Washington, D.C. Biden said, "For too long, we’ve talked about having the best economy in the world. We’ve talked about asserting American leadership around the world with the best and safest roads, railways, ports, and airports... today, we are finally getting it done.”

Biden thanked Republican Senator Rob Portman of Ohio and Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona for their work to get bipartisan support for the bill.

In order to reach the deal in a divided Congress, Biden had to reduce his spending request of $2.3 trillion by more than half. The $1.2 trillion spending plan will be partly paid for by using $210 billion in COVID-19 aid that was not spent and $53 billion in unemployment aid money that was not released.

What’s in the spending plan:

The Biden administration called the law a historic investment and compared it to the building of the transcontinental railroad and the Interstate Highway System.

For roads and bridges

The legislation will provide $110 billion to repair the country’s aging highways, bridges and roads. The Biden administration said nearly 280,000 kilometers of America’s highways and major roads and 45,000 bridges are in poor condition.

Public transportation

The legislation will give $66 billion to improve Amtrak rail service. There will be $39 billion to fix thousands of kilometers of public transportation railways and expand other transportation systems. The law also aims to improve accessibility for people with disabilities. There will also be money for state and local governments to buy new zero- and low-emission buses.

Electric vehicles

The law calls for spending $7.5 billion on electric vehicle charging stations. The Biden administration says this will increase the use of electric vehicles to limit climate change. It will also provide $5 billion for buying electric school buses and hybrids which run on both electricity and gasoline.

Internet access

The legislation’s $65 billion for broadband service aims to improve internet services for rural areas, low-income families and tribal communities.

Modernizing the power grid

To protect against electrical power outages that have become common in recent years, the law calls for spending $65 billion to upgrade the nation’s power system. It will also provide money for carbon capture technologies and clean electricity production.

Airports

The law approves spending $25 billion to improve airport runways and structures. It will also be used for updated passenger areas and air traffic control centers.

Water and wastewater

Fifty-five billion dollars are aimed at water and wastewater infrastructure systems. Infrastructure is a word for the many structures and systems needed to operate a country. The law includes $15 billion to replace lead pipes and $10 billion to deal with polluted water.

How big is $1 trillion

The $1.2 trillion spending plan is about one-twentieth the size of the United States’ GDP in 2020. The GDP is the measure of the total value of goods and services in the country. But, it is much larger than the GDP of many countries, including Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Thailand and Nigeria.

American experts welcomed the deal. But they said $1 trillion was not enough to take care of and update the nation’s infrastructure.

Yale University economist Ray Fair said there has been a sharp decrease in infrastructure spending as a percentage of the U.S. economy starting in 1970. He wrote in September that the new infrastructure spending plan only covered about 10 percent of the $5.2 trillion he said is needed. “The bottom line is that the current infrastructure bill is quite modest,” Fair said.

David Van Slyke is head of the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University in New York. He told the Associated Press, “This is not going to solve our infrastructure problems across the nation.”

I’m Jonathan Evans.

Hai Do adapted this story from Associated Press reports. Mario Ritter Jr. was the editor.

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Words in This Story

accessibility –n. the ability to be used, gotten or entered by someone (for example, someone with a disability)

assert –v. to state something in a strong way

emission n. (often pl.) something that is sent out, given off or released (for example, gasses that are released)

charge –v. to put electricity into a device so that it will operate

bipartisan –adj. relating to or involving members of two political parties

bottom line –idiom the most important part of something : the most important thing to consider

modest –adj. not very large in size or amount

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