The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), passed with bipartisan support in both the House and Senate and recently signed by President Biden, will help prepare the Nation and our city/metro economies for the 21st Century.
The $1.2 trillion package, including $550 billion of new spending over multiple years, was strongly supported by The U.S. Conference of Mayors through its bipartisan ARPA and Infrastructure Campaign, co-chaired by Conference President Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley and Conference Trustee Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt, and a letter signed by over 370 mayors – including Republicans, Democrats and independents from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Up to this point, U.S. infrastructure investments had fallen woefully short of our global competitors. Our infrastructure was deteriorating at an unacceptable rate, and we were failing to provide new technologies, in areas such as high-speed internet and clean energy, to all our citizens. The Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated these inadequacies; particularly hard-hit have been low- and moderate-income residents and minority communities.
Mayors have called for major federal investments in the nation’s infrastructure for years. The IIJA meets that call. The law includes new investments in roads and bridges ($110 billion), public transit ($39 billion), passenger rail ($66 billion), ports ($17 billion), airports ($25 billion), water systems ($55 billion), energy and power ($73 billion), and environmental remediation ($21 billion) – all essential for building a competitive, productive economy with good-paying jobs. These broad categories include funds for important Conference priorities such as electric charging stations ($7.5 billion), Brownfields ($1.5 billion), and the Energy Eﬀiciency Conservation Block Grant ($550 million).
It is significant that the IIJA introduces equity into federal infrastructure decisions, with programs to promote environmental justice for communities that too often have borne the brunt of pollution and disinvestment; and major investments in programs targeting racial inequities that have existed in transportation and other infrastructure investments. The new legislation supports equity goals long shared by the Conference and mayors throughout the nation.
Mayors understand the magnitude and impact of the IIJA. U.S. city/metros are the engines of our nation’s economy, accounting for over 90 percent of GDP and 88 percent of all jobs. Modern infrastructure is critical to city/metros’ ability to ensure the nation’s future economic growth, global competitiveness, and prosperity. With the IIJA, we will be better equipped to meet pressing challenges and achieve transformational changes.