WASHINGTON - President Joe Biden signed the $1 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act into law on Monday after the House approved the measure in a show of bipartisanship.
Biden was joined by members of Congress as well as mayors, governors, labor union representatives and business leaders on the South Lawn for the signing.
"We hear you and we see you," Biden said. "We can deliver real results for real people."
"Things are going to turn around in a big way," he continued. Biden will travel to New Hampshire this week to get a first-hand look at dilapidated bridges his bill will help repair and then to Detroit to speak with auto workers.
Biden said far too long America has had the best economy in the world and said he believes the country is living up to that title.
"It’s official, folks: I’ve signed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal into law," Biden tweeted.
The House passed the measure 228-206, prompting prolonged cheers from the relieved Democratic side of the chamber. Thirteen Republicans, mostly moderates, supported the legislation while six of Democrats’ farthest left members — including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Cori Bush of Missouri — opposed it.
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 would provide $110 billion to repair the nation’s aging highways, bridges and roads. According to the White House, 173,000 total miles or nearly 280,000 kilometers of America’s highways and major roads and 45,000 bridges are in poor condition. And the almost $40 billion for bridges is the single largest dedicated bridge investment since the construction of the national highway system, according to the Biden administration.
The $39 billion for public transit in the legislation would expand transportation systems, improve accessibility for people with disabilities and provide dollars to state and local governments to buy zero-emission and low-emission buses. The Transportation Department estimates that the current repair backlog is more than 24,000 buses, 5,000 rail cars, 200 stations and thousands of miles of track and power systems.
To reduce Amtrak’s maintenance backlog, which has worsened since Superstorm Sandy nine years ago, the bill would provide $66 billion to improve the rail service’s Northeast Corridor (457 miles, 735 km), as well as other routes. It’s less than the $80 billion Biden — who famously rode Amtrak from Delaware to Washington during his time in the Senate — originally asked for, but it would be the largest federal investment in passenger rail service since Amtrak was founded 50 years ago.
"What that means is you’re going to be safer and get there faster," Biden added.
The legislation’s $65 billion for broadband access would aim to improve internet services for rural areas, low-income families and tribal communities. Most of the money would be made available through grants to states.
The bill would spend $25 billion to improve runways, gates and taxiways at airports and to improve terminals. It would also improve aging air traffic control towers.
The legislation would spend $55 billion on water and wastewater infrastructure. It has $15 billion to replace lead pipes and $10 billion to address water contamination from polyfluoroalkyl substances — chemicals that were used in the production of Teflon and have also been used in firefighting foam, water-repellent clothing and many other items.
"This law is going to replace 100% of the nation’s lead pipes and service lines so every child can turn on the faucet and get clean water," Biden continued.
The five-year spending package would be paid for by tapping $210 billion in unspent COVID-19 relief aid and $53 billion in unemployment insurance aid some states have halted, along with an array of smaller pots of money, like petroleum reserve sales and spectrum auctions for 5G services.
Biden plans to name former New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu senior advisor responsible for implementing the infrastructure plan. He served as mayor for New Orleans from 2010 to 2018, helping the city recover from Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the 2010 BP oil spill. According to the White House, he fast-tracked 100 projects and secured billions of dollars in federal funding to improve the city’s infrastructure, education and hospitals in the years following the storm. Before becoming mayor, Landrieu served as the Lt. Governor of Louisiana.
"I am thankful to the President and honored to be tasked with coordinating the largest infrastructure investment in generations," Landrieu said in a news release Sunday. "Our work will require strong partnerships across the government and with state and local leaders, business and labor to create good-paying jobs and rebuild America for the middle class. We will also ensure these major investments achieve the President’s goals of combating climate change and advancing equity."
Yet despite the win, Democrats endured a setback when they postponed a vote on a second, even larger bill until later this month.
That 10-year, $1.85 trillion measure bolstering health, family and climate change programs was sidetracked after moderates demanded a cost estimate on the sprawling measure from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The postponement dashed hopes that the day would produce a double-barreled win for Biden with passage of both bills.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.