Finally it is actually WasInfrastructure week
After a long dayThe House of Representatives gave final approval Friday night to President Joe Biden’s infrastructure package worth $1.2 trillion after a series of back and forth talks between Democratic leaders. Final approval of the “bipartisan framework for infrastructure” was given. 13 Republicans supported the billSix progressive Democrats opposed it, however.
Progressives had been holding up the passage of the infrastructure bill in the House for months—it cleared the Senate in a similarly bipartisan fashion in August—in the hopes of using it as leverage to ensure the passage of a larger social spending package. The $3.5 trillion budget plan that was part of Biden’s “Build back Better” plan has since been reduced and rewritten many times. Although both bills were due to be voted in the House, moderate Democrats requested a delay to the second bill so that the Congressional Budget Office can complete a comprehensive analysis of it’s spending and tax-increasing provision. It is anticipated that this review will take around two weeks.
The passage of the infrastructure bill was a victory for Biden, regardless of what happens to the second bill. Although it took longer than Biden would like, the final package is much closer to what he described in March. It includes a bipartisan major agreement that will allow for a large amount of money to be spent on all aspects of infrastructure from roads and bridges to transit and internet. Biden stated that the bill had passed and that he felt it was a significant step for America.
The infrastructure bill, however, is a wasted opportunity. It is a missed opportunity that highlights so many of Washington’s problems with policymaking. There, political expediency and budget gimmickry often seem to override ideas that give taxpayers the best bang for their buck.
You should start at the very top of the $1.2 Trillion package. CBO predicts that the bill would add approximately $256 billion to the federal budget over a period of 10 years. This number could be much higher than $400 billion, as the infrastructure package contains a lot of questionable offsets. The most notable is how it plans to redistribute unused funds from various COVID-19 emergencies spending bills.
Additionally, the bill contains provisions that make it more expensive for taxpayers to fund infrastructure projects. It matters because, if you increase the cost of building bridges and have a set amount of money, there will be fewer bridges.
The “Buy American” clause in the bill is a mere act of patriotism, and an aid to powerful unions. Congress is effectively imposing a requirement that all materials for road, bridge and rail constructions be sourced primarily from the United States. This will increase prices and encourage arbitrary protectionism. Ask the current dysfunctional Washington, D.C. metro system about how these laws work.
It could have provided an opportunity for reforming other federal regulations that can unnecessarily increase the cost of infrastructure building. Like the Davis-Bacon Act, which requires that most workers on federally subsidized building projects are paid the local “prevailing wage” negotiated by unions even if the workers themselves are not unionized—and only about 13 percent of construction workers are part of a union. As much as 20% can be added to the cost of infrastructure projects due to Davis-Bacon Act regulations.
The infrastructure package might have also suspended or removed parts of NEPA to speed up environmental review for infrastructure projects. NEPA Reviews take on average four years and are used frequently to prevent development.
Although President Donald Trump implemented minor NEPA reforms, they were already repealed by the Biden government. “Biden’s NEPA proposals only assure that more federal dollars will be spent red tape,” ReasonLast month, Christian Britschgi of’s explained.
The bill promises to spend federal tax dollars for boondoggles such as rural broadband internet, while inflating actual infrastructure costs. The bill cleverly alters the definition of broadband to justify the $42 billion subsidy for the construction of unnecessary fiber-optic cables. This makes it appear that fewer Americans have high-speed Internet access. Another provision in the bill virtually guarantees that subsidies are paid to networks owned by public authorities, rather than private. This seems to fulfill an ideological goal—making internet access more like a public utility rather than a private service is what many advocates of broadband spending seek—rather than a practical one.
Biden has a $1.2 billion infrastructure bill on his desk. This is the most expensive package of legislation in American history. However, even though $1.2 billion is a staggering amount of money it will still have a significant impact on the economy.
Friday’s harried negotiations over the infrastructure bill were, in the words of progressive Rep. Mark Pocan (D–Wis.”a clusterfuck” This could also be applied to a large portion of the bill’s final form.