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Biden's infrastructure plan focuses on repairs, jobs and climate

April 1, 2021
The president is calling on Congress to invest more than $2 trillion in U.S. roads, bridges, ports, airports, and transit systems with an eye toward creating jobs, combating climate change and strengthening supply chains.

President Joe Biden is trying to do something his two predecessors couldn’t: Get Congress to pass a $2 trillion+ infrastructure bill, spent over eight years, that would fix ailing roads and bridges across the U.S, along with speeding up electric vehicle deployment, adding manufacturing jobs and addressing drinking water and broadband issues.

Along with creating jobs and a new focus on clean energy to fight climate change, the president is proposing spending to modernize rural areas across the U.S. that have fallen behind and would spend money in and around minority communities.

The president is calling on Congress to make historic investments of $621 billion on U.S. roads, bridges, ports, airports, and transit systems, along with EVs. Much of the infrastructure bill, dubbed the American Jobs Plan, that Biden laid out on March 31 focuses on repairing and modernizing the country’s crumbling infrastructure. 

Congress will likely be debating the proposal’s merits for the next few months and could use budget reconciliation rules to pass the eventual bill without Republican support. The plan calls for a 28% corporate tax rate, which would be an increase over the current rate of 21%.

After going over some of the initial details, here is a look at some of the plan's items that could affect the trucking and freight industries.

Roads and bridges

The White House notes that one out of every five miles of U.S. highways and major roads is rated poor. Along with 173,000 miles of roads in need of repair are 45,000 bridges in bad condition. 

The plan proposes spending $115 billion to modernize bridges and 20,000 miles of highways and roads in most need of repair. The White House says these bad roads and bridges cost the country more than $160 billion per year as motorists sit in traffic, wasting time and fuel. This money would also go toward projects to improve air quality and reduce congestion.

The road and bridge money would prioritize “the most economically significant large bridges in the country in need of reconstruction,” according to a White House statement, along with repairing the worst 10,000 small bridges — including those in rural areas. The plan would also spend $20 billion to improve road safety by focusing on reducing crashes and fatalities.

There is also $85 billion for public transportation improvements, which, if successful, would encourage more people to commute via transit systems and reduce road congestion in and around cities.

Electric vehicles and charging

Biden proposed spending $174 billion to increase the U.S. market share of electric vehicles, which the White House notes is currently just one-third of the Chinese EV market. On the consumer side, the plan includes sale rebates and tax incentives to buy American-made EVs. 

The EVs would be powered by a national network of 500,000 vehicle chargers (by 2030) built by the government and private sector, funded in part by grants and incentive programs. Biden’s plan also calls for replacing 50,000 diesel-powered transit vehicles with EVs and electrifying at least 20% of school buses across the country. The plan also includes electrifying the U.S. Postal Service fleet.

Ports

The American Jobs Plan includes $17 billion for inland waterways, coastal ports, land ports of entry, and ferries. This money includes a “Healthy Ports program,” which would reduce the air pollution impacts of neighborhoods near U.S. ports — which are often made up of minority communities.

Climate

Most of the plan keeps climate change in mind — from pushing for the use of clean energy to power EVs to using technologically advanced pavements that recycle carbon dioxide. The plan also includes money to protect infrastructure from extreme weather and climate-related disasters. The White House said that 22 such events happened in the U.S. last year — with each causing losses exceeding $1 billion and $95 billion total. 

Biden’s plan unveiled this week includes $50 billion to improve infrastructure and make it more resilient against weather events such as Hurricane Laura, which cause $19 billion in damages in Louisiana in 2020. 

Construction

Along the climate-proofing theme is money for construction. The plan includes Weatherization Assistance block grants that would fund extending and expanding home and commercial efficiency tax credits. The infrastructure plan would establish a $27 billion Clean Energy and Sustainability Accelerator to encourage private investment into distributed energy resources, retrofits of residential, commercial and municipal buildings, along with clean transportation.

Supply chains

Biden’s plan asks Congress to invest $300 billion to strengthen U.S. manufacturing and small businesses. The president wants $50 billion of that to go toward a new Department of Commerce office dedicated to monitoring domestic industrial capacity and funding investments to support production of critical goods. Another $50 billion would go toward semiconductor manufacturing and research, as called for in the CHIPS Act.

Biden is also calling on Congress to lean into the federal government’s buying power to jump-start innovations in clean energy production. The White House notes that the government spends more than $500 billion per year buying goods and services. To meet Biden’s goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, he wants Congress to make a $46 billion investment to help enable more manufacturing of clean-energy products such as EVs. 

The plan also calls for a lot of “made in America” initiatives, such as investing more than $52 billion in domestic manufacturing with a focus on rural America. It also supports modernizing supply chains with tax credit programs and financing options to support manufacturers’ debt and equity investments to help strengthen the supply chains. 

Taxes

To pay for this more than $2 trillion American Jobs Plan, the president wants Congress to roll back the 2017 Trump tax cuts. The plan would set the corporate tax rate at 28%, which is higher than after 2017 but still lower than before Trump took office early that year (35%).

The plan would also aim to make it harder for U.S. corporations to set up off-shore corporations to get around U.S. tax laws, such as a minimum tax on large corporations, which is part of the proposal. 

About the Author

FleetOwner Staff

Our Editorial Team

Kevin Jones, Editorial Director, Commercial Vehicle Group

Josh Fisher, Editor-in-Chief

Jade Brasher, Senior Editor

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