Congress passes appropriations bill for $1.2 billion infrastructure program; $110 billion has been ‘pushed down’ to the states

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Congress has passed an appropriation bill to fund the $1.2 trillion bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), meaning that funds can begin flowing for the first projects to be supported by the measure president Joe Biden signed into law last Nov. 15.

Biden’s infrastructure implementation coordinator, former New Orleans Governor Mitch Landrieu, says federal departments and agencies in the past 110 days have “pushed down about $110 billion to the states,” Engineering News-Record (ENR) has reported. The legislation was enacted last Nov. 15.

At a Bipartisan Policy Center virtual forum on March 9, Landrieu said, “So when people ask me: ‘When is this stuff happening? the answer is right now.”

“This is a massive, life-changing amount of investment, for us to really kickstart how we’re going to rebuild this country and make ourselves strong again,” he said.

In a separate statement, the American Public Works Association (APWA) expressed support for the appropriations decision.

“Now that IIJA has been funded, public works departments throughout America can finally get to work repairing, upgrading or replacing aging highways, roads, bridges, water and wastewater systems,” APWA CEO Scott D. Grayson said in a March 11 statement. “We are so pleased that communities all over the U.S. will now receive funding for much needed repairs and upgrades to their infrastructure systems, which will not only improve the quality of their lives but protect them as well.”

“Finally getting IIJA fully funded is transformational,” said APWA ;resident Stan Brown. “In addition to large investment in our roads and bridges, IIJA has money for rail, transit, and many of the things American communities need to make our country work better.”

The IIJA adds $559 billion to the federal government’s average annual investment of $650 billion and addresses APWA’s public policy priorities for surface transportation reauthorization, water resiliency, and emergency management, including:

  • Reauthorizing the primary federal aid highway programs and increasing overall spending $273.2 billion over 5 years,
  • Codifying elements of the “one federal decision” policy to require agencies to coordinate reviews and authorization decisions for major infrastructure projects and sets a goal for completing environmental reviews within two years,
  • $11 billion for road safety,
  • $7.3 billion for the new Promoting Resilient Operations for Transformative, Efficient, and Cost-saving Transportation (PROTECT) program to make infrastructure more resilient to storms and natural disasters,
  • $55 billion towards water and wastewater infrastructure,
  • $5 billion to the Assistance for Small and Disadvantaged Communities Drinking Water grant program to deal with emerging contaminants,
  • $1 billion in grant program (FY2022 through FY2025) to help states, tribal or multistate governments address cybersecurity threats, and
  • $3.5 billion for the National Flood Insurance Fund for flood mitigation assistance.

Landrieu said there are 375 programs in the mammoth $1.2-trillion legislation, “and 125 of them are brand new.”

Samantha Silverberg, the White House’s deputy infrastructure chief, told meeting attendees that 90% of the funds from the new law “will be delivered by non-federal partners,” including states, cities, port authorities, transit agencies, nonprofits and other entities, ENR reported.

She also said that the administration has asked each state to name an infrastructure coordinator and notes that about 26 states have done so thus far.

Those officials can coordinate efforts amount various agencies within their respective states. “We want to see that same kind of integration also at the local level,” Silverberg said.

Silveberg said that the administration has published a guidebook to the IIJA and its programs, on its build.gov webpage.

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