EUGENE, Ore. – The sweeping $2.3 trillion infrastructure package proposed by President Joe Biden is being called a once-in-a-generation investment, and Democratic Rep. Peter DeFazio said during an interview Wednesday it’s badly needed.
DeFazio chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, where a bulk of the spending is allocated. DeFazio said for Oregon, the bill would bring an influx of cash to fund overdue repairs.
“The most important elements for us would be we have a lot of failed or failing bridges, particularly off the national highway system” DeFazio said.
While he said the interstate bridges were taken care of in 2006, there are many critical county bridges and roads that need work. DeFazio said another top priority is public transit for both cities and rural areas where accessibility is currently limited to vehicles.
The package is also climate-focused with money for electric cars and clean energy, and jobs-focused with analysts estimating it will create over 2 million positions to chip away at unemployment.
“We have great opportunities to use new materials that are more climate friendly. We can build it resilient to floods, other sea level rise in areas where that's a problem. Out here – earthquakes, fire are two known disasters and things that are a result of climate change,” DeFazio said.
Democratic leaders have embraced Biden’s plan, but Republican opposition to Biden’s ambitious proposal came quickly. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell dismissed the package as nothing more than a “Trojan horse” for tax hikes.
The proposal includes a tax increase on large corporations to fund the upgrades, but DeFazio said that’s just a proposal and the funding conversations are ongoing.
“I think there are ways to get there that are not painful and not going to hurt the economy and are going to benefit everybody,” DeFazio said.
For a breakdown of the package, see below.
— $115 billion to modernize the bridges, highways and roads that are in the worst shape. The White House outline estimated 20,000 miles (32,187 kilometers) of roadways would be repaired, while economically significant bridges and 10,000 smaller bridges would get fixed.
— $85 billion for public transit, doubling the federal government’s commitment in an effort to shorten the repair backlog and expand service.
— $80 billion to modernize Amtrak’s heavily trafficked Northeast Corridor line, address its repair backlog and improve freight rail.
— $174 billion to build 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations, electrify 20% of school buses and electrify the federal fleet, including U.S. Postal Service vehicles.
— $25 billion to upgrade air travel and airports and $17 billion for waterways and coastal ports.
— $20 billion to redress communities whose neighborhoods — typically nonwhite — were divided by highway projects.
— $50 billion to improve infrastructure resilience in the aftermath of natural disasters.
— $111 billion to replace lead water pipes and upgrade sewer systems.
— $100 billion to build high-speed broadband that provides 100% coverage for the country.
— $100 billion to upgrade the resilience of the power grid and move to clean electricity, among other power projects.
— $213 billion to produce, preserve and retrofit more than 2 million affordable houses and buildings.
— $100 billion to upgrade and build new schools.
— $18 billion to modernize Veterans Affairs hospitals and clinics, and $10 billion for federal buildings.
— $400 billion to expand long-term care services under Medicaid.
— $180 billion invested in research and development projects.
— $300 billion for manufacturing, including funds for the computer chip sector, improved access to capital and investment in clean energy through federal procurement.
— $100 billion for workforce development.
Biden’s plan would finance projects by:
— Raising the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%, one of the measures that over 15 years would cover the cost of the infrastructure program and then help to reduce the budget deficit.
— Imposing a 21% global minimum tax, so that companies cannot avoid taxes by shifting income to low-tax countries.
— Making it harder for businesses to merge with foreign companies to avoid U.S. taxes, a process known as inversion.
— Eliminating tax breaks for companies that shift assets abroad, and denying deductions for offshoring jobs.
— Imposing a 15% minimum tax on the income that corporations report to shareholders.
— Eliminating tax preferences for the fossil fuels sector.
— Increasing IRS audits of large corporations.