Issues such as roads, bridges, and mass transportation
Related IssuesAir Traffic Control Privatization
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Infrastructure law would improve transportation and more
|2021-Nov-15||By: Barry Shatzman|
President Joe Biden has signed a $1 trillion law to improve the nation's infrastructure - from highways to water supplies to broadband to cleaning up the environment.
Transportation will be quicker, safer, cleaner
The bill allocates money to improve virtually every facet of transportation in the United States - much of which is dangerously failing or no longer adequate.
Highways and bridges will be repaired and expanded to make them safer and reduce congestion. Charging stations for electric vehicles will be installed along highways to make long trips more practical.
Airports will be improved
Amtrak trains and stations will be upgraded.
Railroad crossings will be made safer - or eliminated by constructing underpasses and overpasses.
Added funding will create new bus routes and allow public transit to better serve seniors and disabled Americans.
New grant method could mean faster construction, higher wages
Unlike many other bills that simply send money to states for them to spend, this bill requires much of the money to come from competitive grants approved by the Department of Transportation (DOT).
This gives the Biden administration a greater say in how the money actually is spent. It also gives the government power to dictate wages and require that work be performed by union members.
It does, however, mean that the final year of the 5-year spending would be at the discretion of the future administration if Biden does not serve a second term.
Our environment will be cleaner
The bill provides money to remove toxic lead and PFAS from drinking water.
It will fund the cleanup of 49 toxic Superfund sites.
Other infrastructure improvements
It will improve the nation's power grid, and make it more secure from cyber attacks.
It will improve the nation's ports
Infrastructure will be improved for the traditionally underserved
It expands broadband access to rural and low-income communities.
It will help reconnect Black communites that were divided to make space for highways.
Much is paid for with previously allocated funds
Much of the spending for projects in this bill are paid for by trimming some outdated projects and strenghtening others.
Almost $250 billion designated for various COVID-19 pandemic relief programs that was not used - including $53 billion that would have benefited unemployed residents of several states because those states stopped paying the benefits.
Almost $15 billion from reinstating a tax on the production of hazardous chemicals.
Virtually all support was by Democrats
Though the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act has been commonly referred to as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, it was approved mostly along party lines. It received support from only 13 Republicans in the House of Representatives and 19 in the Senate. All but 6 Democrats supported it.
Click here for more details about the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act - including how your representative and senators voted.
Click here to read the Transportation Department's statement on public transportation improvements.
Click here to read the Environmental Protection Agency's statement on environmental improvements.
FAA funding extended to consider privatizing Air Traffic Control
|2016-Mar-30||By: Barry Shatzman|
President Obama has signed a bill that would extend funding for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) through July 15.
Funding was set to run out on March 31, but Congress still is working to pass a long-term extension. The extension is controversial because it includes a provision to privatize Air Traffic Control operations, which currently are managed by the FAA.
Congress proposes privatizing Air Traffic Control in US
|2016-Feb-11||By: Barry Shatzman|
The House of Representatives is considering a bill that would remove air traffic control from the government and turn it over to a not-for-profit corporation.
Air traffic control currently is managed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). If this provision - part of a must-pass bill to fund the FAA - is passed, these operations would be run by the new corporation and funded by fees on air travel. The airline industry would have the largest amount of control over the corporation.
For more, read the TheHill.com story.
For more on the issue of privatizing air traffic control in the United States, see our discussion.
The bill is the Aviation Reform, Innovation, and Reauthorization Act.
Road and bridge repairs extended 2 more months
|2015-May-29||By: Barry Shatzman|
President Obama has once again signed a short term extension to the Highway Trust Fund.
The previous extension to the fund was set to expire on May 31. This bill extends that by two months - through July 31. Had the fund expired, federal money that pays for state transportation projects would have been cut off - stalling things like road repairs at the peak of construction season.
Road and bridge repairs given 10-month extension
|2014-Aug-08||By: Barry Shatzman|
President Obama has signed a bill that would keep money flowing toward road and bridge repair and other infrastructure projects.
The extends funding for the Highway Trust Fund, which was going to run out of money at the end of August. The fund pays for about half of all highway projects in the country (states pay the other half of their projects).
The bill is only a short-term fix. It provides money for only 10 months - through May, 2015.
Even that 10 months is not really paid for. Essentially, the federal government will indirectly borrow the money from companies' pension funds. It's a technique known as Pension Smoothing (click to read our explanation).
For more on how the Highway Trust Fund was extended, read the New York Times story.
For an understanding of what the Highway Trust Fund does, the importance of the projects it pays for, how it can be paid for in a responsible way, and how you can influence that, read our discussion of this issue.