By Kate Campbell, Research Associate
The United States has long been falling behind on infrastructure. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave America’s infrastructure a C- grade this year, less than mediocre. Recently, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg pledged to be a federal partner to state and local governments dealing with failing infrastructure, which comes at a time when the U.S. desperately needs to repair and invest in systems across the economy. According to the ASCE, the U.S. must spend $5.93 trillion by 2029 to fix our roads, bridges, dams, broadband, and other infrastructure. Current federal, state, and local budgets cover only about $3.34 trillion of that, creating a $2.59 trillion shortfall.
The funding gap is addressed in part by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which recently passed the Senate with 69 votes. The bipartisan bill calls for $550 billion in new spending over the next five years, including $110 billion for roads and bridges, nearly $40 billion for public transit, and more than $70 billion for power infrastructure. However, more is needed to reach ASCE’s estimated funding needs, which is why House Democrats are including their remaining priorities in the budget reconciliation process before sending the bill to President Biden’s desk.
The reconciliation package will address much of what the bipartisan deal left out from President Biden’s original American Jobs Plan. Democrats are planning to include funding for caregiving and workforce development, tax credits, incentives for clean electricity, and major investments in housing, schools, and buildings.
In June, the Pacific Northwest, a region used to temperate climate, was slammed by a heat wave which broke records from Seattle to Portland. Officials found their essential infrastructure unequipped to deal with the high temperatures. The light-rail system in Portland was shut down after the heat melted parts of critical cables. In February, Texas faced a major power crisis brought on by severe winter storms. The state’s electric grid was overwhelmed by cold temperatures and increased energy use, leading to malfunctions, failures, and ultimately statewide blackouts. The outdated infrastructure, lack of oversight, and extreme weather conditions created dire situations for Texans. Events like these are becoming increasingly common, highlighting the need for investments in resilient and sustainable infrastructure systems.
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and reconciliation bill will create nearly 2 million jobs per year and grow the GDP by more than $4.5 trillion. Historic investments across the economy — including transportation, broadband, and the electric grid — will create good-paying jobs in urban and rural areas, revitalize our aging infrastructure, and build an economy resilient to the threat of climate change.
Read our Answering America issue brief, Are We Doing Enough to Fix Our Roads and Bridges to learn more.