Infrastructure Plan Has 4,300 Projects 05/16 06:03
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Six months after the signing of President Joe Biden's $1
trillion infrastructure package, the government said Monday there are 4,300
projects underway with more than $110 billion in funding announced --
milestones the administration is publicly heralding as midterm politics
White House senior adviser Mitch Landrieu, the former mayor of New Orleans,
said the roads, bridges and other projects are laying "a foundation for
tremendous growth into the future." Landrieu said Biden and members of his
administration have made more than 125 trips to highlight the bipartisan
investments in infrastructure. He declined to predict how much the storytelling
will resonate with voters as construction starts.
"I think that if Americans step back, we will all have to admit that for the
last 50 years we've had the need to do this and we haven't found the will or
the way to get it done," Landrieu told reporters. He added that this is a
"wonderful down payment" on infrastructure needs in the country that total
roughly $7 trillion.
The administration made a strategic calculation that delivering results
would help Democrats retain control of the House and the Senate in this year's
elections. Infrastructure was a rare source of bipartisan unity as Biden struck
a deal that attracted several Republican senators. The law contains money to
expand internet access and replace lead water pipes and for rail and public
transit projects and investments to address climate change.
When Biden signed the law on Nov. 15, he pledged to voters that "America is
moving again and your life is going to change for the better."
Six months later, the stock market is down, inflation is near a 40-year
peak, Russia's war in Ukraine is pushing up energy costs and many Americans
feel pessimistic about the economy's health. There is an open question whether
voters will reward infrastructure projects in which the benefits are years away
as part of what Biden has portrayed as an "infrastructure decade."
"All we can do is tell the story about what we do, and the impact that it
has on the midterms will be whatever it's going to be," Landrieu said.
Of the $110 billion announced so far, $52.5 billion is for federal highway
funding this fiscal year and $20.5 billion for public transit. There is another
$27 billion over five years for bridges, as well as money for safety, rural
highways, airports, ports, drought resilience and other programs.
The infrastructure spending is also one area where political leaders will
have to share credit with each other. Governors and mayors are responsible for
90% of the expenditures in the law, while the federal government accounts for
10% of the spending. The administration has actively tried to help state and
local governments compete for the money, with Landrieu noting that even
Republican critics are generally eager to receive the funding.
"Some really smart person said, you know, even those people that voted no
want the dough," he said. "This is as close to consensus in my political life
that I have seen."
The Commerce Department last week called on states to begin the process of
submitting their plans for universal access to high-speed internet. Biden has
also taken steps to maximize the likelihood that construction materials are
made domestically, as the money has started to go out.
Landrieu said the two biggest challenges of coordinating the spending have
involved offering technical assistance to smaller governments and enabling
workforce development to fill the jobs being created. There are 7.6 million
construction jobs in the U.S., with employers advertising about 400,000
openings in the sector.
Landrieu said that those challenges are also "an unbelievable opportunity to
get right something that we actually haven't been collectively very good at in
If the government succeeds with coordination and future administrations
follow suit, Landrieu said, "America is going to grow exponentially faster and
winning the 21st century is not going to be a challenge for us."