Biden Expected to Sign 2022 Spending Deal
Last week, Congress passed a $1.5 trillion omnibus bill that will fund federal agencies for the remainder of fiscal year 2022, including $775 million for infrastructure funding from the bipartisan infrastructure bill. The Consolidated Appropriations Act 2022, H.R. 2471, includes all 12 United State departments’ spending bills and is expected to be signed by President Joe Biden this week.
On Friday, Biden signed stopgap funding to prevent a government shutdown before the midnight deadline, continuing through March 15. The spending bills are six months overdue, reportedly due to disagreements regarding division of funds between defense and domestic accounts.
The 2,741-page bill includes $81.038 billion for FY2022 for the Department of Transportation, Department of Housing and Urban Development and other related agencies. Of that funding, $775 million will go towards national infrastructure investments.
“Enacting the omnibus unlocks more federal funding under our Bipartisan Infrastructure Law – bringing transformational investments to roads, bridges, transit, water systems, airports, broadband and more across America,” wrote House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer in a joint statement. “It will also invest in bipartisan Community Projects for the first time in over a decade.”
No less than $20 million is expected to be awarded to projects in historically disadvantaged communities or areas of persistent poverty, as well as equitable geographic distribution to address needs in rural, urban and Tribal communities. According to the bill, the competitive grant program for infrastructure funding plans to support a variety of transportation projects including:
Additionally, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will receive $9.5 billion in funding, including State and Tribal Assistance grants, clean water and drinking water state revolving funds, Superfund program funding, brownfield cleanups and diesel emissions reduction grants.
The Department of Energy will also see $44.9 billion for FY2022, an increase of approximately $2.9 billion. More than $185 million will go towards cybersecurity, energy security and emergency response.
The omnibus bill provides $14.1 billion for the Department of the Interior, with an increase of $776 million over current spending, to go towards conservation efforts, offshore wind development and a package that launches “a national initiative to reclaim abandoned mines and cap orphan oil and gas wells.”
The funding for these initiatives comes as Biden recently announced a ban on Russian energy imports in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, with a push from the President to reduce dependence on foreign oil and fossil fuels, as well as speed up the transition to clean energy.
In February, several organizations urged President Biden and Congress to release federal funding, including appropriations from the bipartisan infrastructure law, in order to prevent project delays and bolster infrastructure programs.
The Feb. 8 letter, which was signed by leaders from the U.S. Conference of Mayors, National League of Cities, National Association of Counties, International City/County Management Association, Council of State Governments, National Governors Association and National Conference of State Legislatures, urges Congress to “swiftly” pass appropriations for the fiscal year 2022.
Federal funding for most federal surface transportation programs at FY 2021 levels ended on Feb. 18. Funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act was not yet released because Congress and President Biden had not enacted a full-year FY 2022 transportation law at the IIJA-authorized investment levels.
“We urge lawmakers to negotiate in good faith to advance FY 2022 spending legislation and instill confidence in our residents as we navigate through the ongoing pandemic,” the letter stated. “The IIJA represents a historic investment in our nation’s infrastructure, and Congress must ensure that these new resources are made available to state, territory, and local governments as intended under the law.”
The letter also notes that, without this funding, these governments and public transit agencies will not have access to about 20% of funding increase from the bipartisan infrastructure bill for highway formula programs and more than a 30% increase for public transit formula programs. The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that roughly $45 billion in competitive resources from the first year of the law will go unrealized.
In addition to these organizations, the American Road & Transportation Builders Association recently published its analysis of USDOT’s 2021 National Bridge Inventory database, urging lawmakers to release this funding.
“The longer it takes to bridge the political divide on the FY 2022 spending bills, the longer it will take for transportation improvements to get started,” ARTBA President & CEO Dave Bauer said. “We urge Congress to act forthwith so that the American people can begin to realize the benefits of the historic investments in the bipartisan infrastructure law.”
Infrastructure Bill Details
With the goal of rebuilding the nation’s deteriorating roads and bridges, as well as funding new climate resilience and broadband initiatives, the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act reportedly serves to deliver a key component in President Joe Biden’s agenda.
The White House also reports that the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, alongside the Build Back Framework, will add on average 1.5 million jobs per year for the next ten years.
“Tonight, we took a monumental step forward as a nation,” President Biden said in a statement following the 228-206 vote. “The United States House of Representatives passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, a once-in-generation bipartisan infrastructure bill that will create millions of jobs, turn the climate crisis into an opportunity and put us on a path to win the economic competition for the 21st Century.
“I’m also proud that a rule was voted on that will allow for passage of my Build Back Better Act in the House of Representatives the week of Nov. 15. The Build Back Better Act will be a once-in-a-generation investment in our people.”
As potential effects of climate change woe the world, the legislation has recognized that nearly 75% of the nation’s electricity can be accounted for in both its residential and commercial structures, such as housing, stores and offices.
To mitigate the high usage, the Build Better Plan has dedicated roughly $5 billion to various programs aimed at reducing electricity use in buildings, improving building materials and training on design, construction and maintenance for energy-efficient structures.
The bill will also fund a series of problem-solving programs, for issues varying from drafty windows in affordable housing complexes to aged air ducts and outdated building codes.
According to reports, the largest chunk of the $5 billion will be utilized for the Department of Energy’s Weatherization Assistance Program, which aids structures owned or occupied by people with low incomes. The legislation is expected to provide a $3.5 billion infusion for the program, which will be used to fund upgrades such as insulation, windows, roofing, and heating and cooling devices.
Though seemingly minor, the upgrades are expected to result in sizable energy savings.
Later in November, the White House announced that President Biden named former New Orleans Mayor Landrieu as senior advisor responsible for the implementation of the bipartisan infrastructure bill.
Landrieu served as the mayor of New Orleans from 2010-2018, during Hurricane Katrina recovery and the BP Oil Spill. According to the White House statement, in that time he fast-tracked over 100 projects and secured billions in federal funding for roads, schools, hospitals, parks and critical infrastructure.
“He also knows what it’s like to lead at the state level and will be able to work with and relate to governors and other state officials,” stated the White House press release. “And he has strong relationships in the business and labor communities, which will be essential in carrying out this job.”
At the beginning of the year, Landrieu reached out to state leaders at the beginning of the month encouraging them to appoint their own infrastructure coordinators to implement the $1.2 trillion law.
The three-page letter, sent to all the nation’s governors on Jan. 4, requested that they appoint a “high-level” representative to serve as the state’s own Infrastructure Implementation Coordinator. Landrieu also reportedly suggested that governors create task forces modeled after the Infrastructure Implementation Task Force created by President Biden in November.
The role of these positions will help integrate aspects of the bill, including funding, alongside departments responsible for transportation, water, broadband and energy investments for projects.
“We know that needs, capacity, and challenges can vary widely by locality,” the letter from Landrieu, which was shared with CNN, read. “We need to make sure our programs reflect these realities across your state and our country, and having a senior, single point of contact in your office will help ensure that issues get elevated appropriately and rapidly.”
In his letter, Landrieu also announced that his team, with the Office of Management and Budget, plan to release formal guidance to agencies to “help set the policy parameters for much of the discretionary and remaining formula funding in 2022 and beyond.”
At the beginning of the month, the White House released the first edition of its Bipartisan Infrastructure Law guidebook that contains a comprehensive list of the more than 375 programs and available funding included in the law.
Acting as a “roadmap” for the funding available under the law, as well as an explanatory document that shows direct federal spending at the program level, the 465-page guidebook outlines 12 chapters grouping the programs by area.
According to the release, more than $80 billion has been allocated to states from formula and competitive programs for roads and highways, bridges, ports, airports and water systems. Additional programs, including for high speed internet, electric vehicle chargers, energy grid updates and clean energy, are in the process of being implemented.
Of the 375 programs, 125 are new, with 60% of the funds are available through formula and 40% are through competitive applications. Future phases of the guidebook are expected to update dates and timelines for program implementation, best practices, case studies and links to key resources.