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President Biden Releases Awaited Infrastructure Proposal, Specifics Unclear on How Investment Relates to Current Transportation Spending

March 31, 2021

On March 31, President Joe Biden released the American Jobs Plan, a $2 trillion, wide-ranging infrastructure proposal that seeks to invest in all modes of transportation, water, electric, broadband, public buildings, manufacturing, and much more. On the transportation front, Biden is proposing $621 billion in “additional” investment, including:

  • $115 billion for highways, roads, and bridges
  • $20 billion for roadway safety
  • $85 billion for public transit
  • $80 billion for passenger and freight rail service/ Amtrak
  • $174 billion for a wide-scoped electric vehicle incentives program, including consumer rebates and incentives and incentive and grant programs to build out a network of charging stations
  • $25 billion in airports, including increased funding for the Airport Improvement Program
  • $17 billion for inland waterways, coastal ports, land ports of entry, and ferries
  • $20 billion for redressing transportation inequities in communities
  • $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”
  • $50 billion for infrastructure resilience 

While it is unclear at this time, AGC assumes this “additional” investment is meant to represent an increase in spending over current levels of funding for current surface transportation programs. The proposal did not specify whether this funding represents a one-time spending investment or an investment over multiple years. While the relation to current funding levels for federal transit programs is also unclear, the proposal notes that it would “double” current funding levels for these projects.

Substantively, Biden’s plan notes that the new investment in transportation infrastructure includes funds to improve air quality, limit greenhouse gas emissions, and reduce congestion. The plan specifically references plans to modernize 20,000 miles of highways, roads, and main streets “with safety, resilience, and all users in mind,” fixing or reconstructing “the most economically significant large bridges in the country,” and repairing the worst 10,000 smaller bridges, including bridges that provide critical connections to rural and tribal communities.

On the workforce front, the American Jobs Plan calls for passage of the AGC-opposed PRO Act, as well as prioritizing and tying investments to strong labor standards, such as government-mandated project labor agreements, local hire requirements, and registered apprenticeship programs. On the procurement front, the plan calls on Congress to “include a commitment to increasing American jobs through Buy America.”

AGC of America CEO Steve Sandherr made the following statement upon the release of this proposal: “We greet the President’s new infrastructure proposal with mixed emotions. On one hand, the President is right to focus on rebuilding a broad range of aging and overburdened infrastructure and modernizing buildings. These investments will create a significant number of new construction career opportunities that traditionally pay well above jobs in other industries. Unfortunately, the President seeks to saddle these new investments with a host of labor and regulatory measures that will… offset many of the economic benefits of these new infrastructure investments.”

AGC will monitor Congressional action on this proposal and looks forward to working with members of Congress in both parties to craft an infrastructure proposal that will allow the construction industry to quickly return our nation’s infrastructure to world class status.

For more information, contact Cory Gattie at cory.gattie@agc.org

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