U.S. Capitol Building
The U.S. Capitol Building (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

At long last, Congress has finally passed the $1.2 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal and President Joe Biden said he will sign the bill with lawmakers present at a formal ceremony whose date will be announced soon.

The White House called the measure, formally known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, a once-in-a-generation investment in the nation’s infrastructure and competitiveness.

“For far too long, Washington policymakers have celebrated ‘infrastructure week’ without ever agreeing to build infrastructure,” The White House said in a statement.

“The President promised to work across the aisle to deliver results and rebuild our crumbling infrastructure. After the President put forward his plan to do exactly that and then negotiated a deal with Members of Congress from both parties, this historic legislation is moving to his desk for signature.”

After Congress repeatedly failed to reach a consensus on the president’s domestic agenda and following the catastrophic losses in the November election, Democrats found themselves in a desperate situation, sorely in need of a landmark victory.

The White House said the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal will rebuild America’s roads, bridges and rails, expand access to clean drinking water, ensure every American has access to high-speed internet, tackle the climate crisis, advance environmental justice and invest in communities that have too often been left behind.

“The legislation will help ease inflationary pressures and strengthen supply chains by making long-overdue improvements for our nation’s ports, airports, rail and roads,” Biden said. “It will drive the creation of good-paying union jobs and grow the economy sustainably and equitably so that everyone gets ahead for decades to come. Combined with the President’s Build Back Framework, it will add on average 1.5 million jobs per year for the next 10 years.”

Biden asserted that the bill will make historic investments in environmental clean-up and remediation “and build up our resilience for the next superstorms, droughts, wildfires and hurricanes that cost us billions of dollars in damage each year.”

“I’m also proud that a rule was voted on that will allow for passage of my Build Back Better Act in the House of Representatives the week of November 15,” President Biden continued.

The Build Back Better Act will be a once-in-a-generation investment in our people, the White House stated.

“It will lower bills for healthcare, childcare, elder care, prescription drugs and preschool. And middle-class families get a tax cut,” President Biden insisted.

“This bill is also fiscally responsible, fully paid for and doesn’t raise the deficit. It does so by making sure the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations begin to pay their fair share and doesn’t raise taxes a single cent on anyone making less than $400,000 per year,” he said.

How the Plan Will Affect the D.C. Area

A report released by the Biden administration said that while 45,000 bridges and 173,000 miles of U.S. highways and major roads remain in need of repair, similar problematic conditions currently exist in Maryland, Virginia and the District with more than 800 bridges and 4,700 miles of highway collectively deemed in poor condition.

The Washington Area Metropolitan Transit Authority is slated to receive $150 million through 2030 for infrastructure in the District of Columbia. (Shevry Lassiter/The Washington Informer)

But how will the greater Washington area benefit from the infrastructure bill? Consider the following.

The Commonwealth of Virginia will reportedly receive $7 billion for highway programs, $537 million for bridge replacement and repairs and $1.2 billion to improve public transportation. Funds will also be earmarked towards modernizing Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor which will allow for rail expansion projects and fortify the Virginia Long Bridge.

According to a report released by the Biden administration earlier this year, Virginia has 577 bridges and 2,124 miles of highway in poor condition.

On Saturday, Virginia Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner said the commonwealth will receive at least $100 million to expand broadband, including providing access to around half a million Virginians who currently do not have service. They also said Virginia will receive more than $100 million over five years to help expand the charging network for electric vehicles.

In the District, federal funds will include $150 million a year through 2030 for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority but more specific details on the number of D.C. projects that will benefit from the package remained unknown as of Saturday, Nov. 6.

However, in the same Biden administration report compiled earlier this year, researchers determined that in the District, eight bridges and 402 miles of highway remain in poor condition.

On Nov. 6, Gov. Larry Hogan released a statement that said Maryland will receive $6 billion as part of the infrastructure package with $238 million for Chesapeake Bay restoration and conservation.

Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland) released an info sheet over the weekend which said the state will get $4.1 billion for highway programs and over $400 million for bridge replacement and repairs. In addition, Maryland will receive $1.7 billion over five years to improve public transportation and $63 million to expand the network of car charging stations for electric vehicles.

As for the need to expand broadband coverage, the state will receive at least $100 million toward related improvements, helping an estimated 148,000 Marylanders who currently lack service. Maryland will also receive $7.9 million over five years to protect against wildfires and $15.9 million to protect against cyberattacks. In addition, the Maryland Democratic Party noted that the state will receive $158 million over five years to improve its airports.

According to the aforementioned Biden administration report, Maryland has 273 bridges and 2,201 miles of highway currently in poor condition.

In the coming weeks, both Virginia and Maryland will need to determine what percentage of the funds allotted for their respective states will go to specific counties including Montgomery and Prince George’s counties in Maryland.

Next up for Congress will be Biden’s “Build Back Better” social infrastructure bill which several members of Congress have said they will refrain from giving their support until they receive a financial analysis from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office which should be ready for their review in the next few weeks.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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