President Joe Biden achieved one of his first substantive legislative victories when Congress passed his $1.2 trillion infrastructure package. While the Biden administration sold the “bipartisan infrastructure bill” on the promise of building new roads and bridges, the bill also contains highly ideological provisions preparing for roads and bridges to be torn down, increasing commute times, attempting to herd drivers onto public transportation, allowing Washington to dictate environmental policy to each of the 50 states, and giving high-speed internet access to prisoners.
Here are the facts you need to know.
What is the bipartisan infrastructure bill? How is it related to the “human infrastructure” plan?
The “Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act” (H.R. 3684) is popularly known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework (or “BIF,” for short). The bill became part of a pitched process battle, as President Joe Biden brought together a team of centrist Republicans and less partisan Democrats to negotiate the bill’s contents — then publicly announcing it had to be passed “in tandem” with the then-$3.5 trillion “Build Back Better” Act, which some supporters referred to as a “human infrastructure” bill and which radically expands social welfare programs. “If only one comes to me, this is the only one that comes to me, I’m not signing it,” he vowed.
To the disappointment of congressional progressives, the president ultimately backed down and decoupled the bills. The Senate passed the bipartisan infrastructure bill on August 10 by a 69-30 vote, supported by 19 Republicans. The House of Representatives approved the legislation 228-206 on November 5: 13 Republicans voted in favor of the bill, while six far-Left Democrats voted against the bill, which is more than 2,700 pages long, due to lingering bitterness about the social spending plan. Progressive Caucus Chairwoman Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) said that the infrastructure vote took place in exchange for a commitment to vote on the “Build Back Better” act, which now contains $1.75 trillion in social spending, “no later than the week of November 15.” The infrastructure bill now goes to President Biden for his signature
How much money does the bipartisan infrastructure bill spend on roads and bridges?
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, or BIF, totals $1.2 trillion in spending on traditional infrastructure, as well as broadband internet access and a number of green energy proposals.
Although this legacy media describe this bill as a boon for “roads and bridges,” only approximately 10% of the bill — $110 billion — goes to roads and bridges. The White House says the $40 billion of that total designated specifically for bridges “is the single largest dedicated bridge investment since the construction of the interstate highway system” by the Eisenhower administration. The bill spends another $42 billion for airports and seaports, and $55 billion on fixing water pipes.
Does the bipartisan infrastructure bill spend money preparing for the destruction of existing highways based on racial concerns?
Yes. The infrastructure bill spends half a billion dollars to study and prepare the process of destroying roads and highways allegedly constructed as part of America’s purported legacy of systemic racism. The “reconnecting communities pilot program” frees up money to study “removing, retrofitting, or mitigating an existing” roads or railways. This is a small version of the “Reconnecting Communities Act” introduced by Democrats earlier this year. Allegedly, America’s highways divide minority communities. “In many communities of color, nearby highways continue to represent real barriers for getting around and getting ahead,” said Senator Tom Carper (D-DE). Senator Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said it is necessary to rip up existing highways, in order “to help right these wrongs by identifying and removing these hulking physical barriers to mobility and opportunity.”
How does the infrastructure bill punish people who drive their own car?
The infrastructure bill establishes a “congestion relief program,” which encourages cities and municipalities to charge cars for traveling into city limits during peak hours, collect tolls from drivers, and hike the cost of parking in the city. The bill says the program will fund a state or local “project or strategy that is designed to support congestion pricing, shifting transportation demand to nonpeak hours or other transportation modes, increasing vehicle occupancy rates, or otherwise reducing demand for roads, including electronic toll collection, and travel demand management strategies and program.”
The bill also encourages cities to lengthen drivers’ commute times. Its “highway safety improvement program” encourages the “[c]onstruction or installation of features, measures, and road designs to calm traffic and reduce vehicle speeds.” (Emphasis added.) Reducing speeds means more time on the road (and more carbon emissions), as well as making it more difficult for commuters to live in less expensive suburbs or rural areas outside the city.
How does the infrastructure bill treat public transportation?
The infrastructure bill spends $39 billion for public transportation, which the White House boasts is “the largest federal investment in public transit ever.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly given this president’s history, the bill also spends another $66 billion on rail transit, much of it for Amtrak, marking the largest funding boost since its founding. The Wall Street Journal reports that the bill will fundamentally “alter Amtrak’s stated mission to focus on ‘the intercity passenger rail needs of the United States,’ rather than turning a profit or at least breaking even, something the system hasn’t done since its creation in 1971.”
How does the bipartisan infrastructure bill affect climate policy?
The bipartisan infrastructure bill lets the federal government dictate states’ carbon reduction policies from Washington. Section 11403 of the bill requires states to adopt a “carbon reduction strategy,” which the federal government must approve, and which must be updated at least every four years. If the plan does not meet the administration’s expectations, the administration will refuse to certify the state’s strategy and “specify the actions necessary for the [s]tate to take to correct the deficiencies in the process of the [s]tate in developing the carbon reduction strategy.”
It also includes $15 billion for green energy programs: $7.5 billion for electric chargers for e-vehicles and another $7.5 billion for zero- or low-emission public buses and ferries. Its $65 billion to strengthen the U.S. energy grid also contains billions for green energy.
How does the bipartisan infrastructure bill further the Left’s goal of “equity”?
The word “equity” occurs in the bipartisan infrastructure bill 70 times. For instance, the bill declares that “achieving digital equity is a matter of social and economic justice and is worth pursuing.”
Perhaps its most outlandish equity provision would attempt to establish “environmental justice” — specifically, tree justice. The bill sets aside money for “[c]onducting an equity assessment by mapping tree canopy gaps, flood-prone locations, and urban heat island hot spots.”
Does the infrastructure bill really give broadband access and internet training to prisoners?
Yes. The bill says it aims to reduce “wealth and income gaps” by paying for “training programs for covered populations that cover basic, advanced, and applied skills.” But it specifies that, aside from minorities and “aging individuals” (an inadvertently universal euphemism for the elderly), the term “covered populations” includes “incarcerated individuals, other than individuals who are incarcerated in a [f]ederal correctional facility.”
What other provisions does the bipartisan infrastructure bill have for the internet?
To facilitate the expansion of broadband internet in rural areas, “[t]he Digital Equity Act also specifies entities to oversee the distribution of funds, including the Appalachian Regional Commission, which is co-chaired by Manchin’s wife, Gayle Manchin.”
The bill establishes a permanent subsidy for people making up to 135% of the poverty level ($35,775 for a family of four) to access the internet. The federal government paid approximately 4 million families $50 a month to use toward their internet bill during the COVID-19 pandemic. This bill changes the name of the “Emergency Broadband Benefit” to “Affordable Connectivity,” showing that this “temporary” COVID-19 measure will become a permanent fixture in the nation’s budget. The bill makes low-income families eligible for $30 a month in federal handouts toward their internet service, plus $100 for equipment. There is no requirement the internet be used exclusively or primarily for school or work; approximately 30% of all internet traffic is related to pornography.
In all, the bill spends $65 billion to expand broadband internet access. The Cato Institute points out that the White House vastly overstated the number of Americans (and other U.S. residents) who lack broadband internet access:
According to the White House, which originally proposed this spending, “more than 30 million Americans live in areas where there is no broadband infrastructure.” But according to the Federal Communications Commission, only 21 million Americans “lacked access to fixed terrestrial” broadband in 2019, and all of those Americans had access to satellite broadband if they wanted it. The main beneficiaries of this $65 billion will be broadband companies and high‐income exurbanites.
Are there any improvements to federal regulations?
Yes. The bill codifies President Donald Trump’s “One Federal Decision” policy, which requires one federal agency to become the lead point of contact in any major infrastructure project, seeing the project through the complicated environmental approval process. The policy also required decisions to be made within two years, although the bill allows this to be stretched to three years.
How is it paid for?
Much of it is not. The existing funding comes from other payments Congress had allocated but never spent, such as states that opted not to pay an additional $300 a week in unemployment benefits. That money, which would have been returned to the Treasury, is now being spent on this bill. The bill would also sell off oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and squeeze people involved in cryptocurrency. The Heritage Foundation notes:
Another gimmick, known as “interest rate stabilization” (or “pension smoothing”) would allow corporations to reduce pension contributions and increase their profit margins, leading to more revenue from the corporate income tax. This would shortchange the pension funds by roughly $9 billion for the sake of less than $3 billion in additional tax revenue.
What effect would the bipartisan infrastructure bill have on the national debt?
“On net, the legislation would add $256 billion to projected deficits” between 2021 and 2031, according to the Congressional Budget Office. But “that doesn’t count a $118 billion bailout of the Highway Trust Fund,” notes Heritage Foundation scholar David Ditch. “That means the bill would actually add at least $2,900 per household to the national debt.”
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.