Congress passes $1 trillion infrastructure bill: Funding for bridges & roads, internet access, clean energy, and a lot more.

The big news from Friday night is House passage of the $1 trillion infrastructure bill. The Associated Press reports,

The new law promises to reach almost every corner of the country. It’s a historic investment that the president has compared to the building of the transcontinental railroad and Interstate Highway System. The White House is projecting that the investments will add, on average, about 2 million jobs per year over the coming decade.

The bill cleared the House on a 228-206 vote, ending weeks of intraparty negotiations in which liberal Democrats insisted the legislation be tied to a larger, $1.75 trillion social spending bill — an effort to press more moderate Democrats to support both.

The Senate passed the legislation on a 69-30 vote in August after rare bipartisan negotiations, and the House kept that compromise intact. Thirteen House Republicans voted for the bill, giving Democrats more than enough votes to overcome a handful of defections from progressives.

The AP runs down what’s in the measure. As you’d expect, it’s a lot to cover in a brief blog post, so we’ll encourage you to read the story. Also, the Wall Street Journal gives a good overview.

The $1 trillion package would invest in refurbishing aging roads, bridges and ports; easing transportation bottlenecks; replacing harmful lead pipes; expanding internet access; upgrading the nation’s power grid; and boosting infrastructure resilience amid growing concerns over climate change. The spending is to be paid for with a variety of revenue streams, including more than $200 billion in repurposed funds originally intended for coronavirus relief but left unused; about $50 billion from delaying a Trump-era rule on Medicare rebates; and $50 billion from certain states returning unused unemployment insurance supplemental funds.

The legislation, spending billions in each of the next five years or more, falls short of the full ambitions of the Democratic Party, which is pursuing a separate, larger bill opposed by the Republicans. But the scope of the bill just passed makes the legislation significant in its own right.

A lesson learned from past stimulus measures: It can take a long time for the funding to produce results. The WSJ points out,

Many road projects won’t crank up for a year or more because of the lead time needed for planning and design. During construction, commuters might face added congestion because of temporary lane closures and traffic realignments. Commuting in many areas hasn’t returned to pre-pandemic levels, but many companies say they eventually want employees back in the office.

Even with the additional funding, one potential headwind is the nationwide labor shortage. That could slow everything from highway construction to bus manufacturing, although a road builders association says labor and material supplies should meet demand.

While the funding will be spread over five years, the money doesn’t have to be fully spent in that span. Some major projects the bill is expected to make possible aren’t forecast to be completed for a decade or longer.

The White House has published a fact sheet and the president’s remarks.