“This is not designed to be stimulus,” Cecilia Rouse, who chairs the White House Council of Economic Advisers, said in an interview. “It’s designed to be the most strategic, effective investments so that we can continue to compete against China and other countries that are making bigger investments in their infrastructure.”
“We will see investments starting next year,” she added, “beginning with our ports, and beginning with other areas where we know we are far behind.”
Other core components of the bill include money meant to build as many as 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations and improve the nation’s electric grids, as part of an effort to speed the transition to energy and transportation systems that burn fewer of the fossil fuels that are warming the planet.
“With the combination of this investment and where we know the industry is going,” said Brian Deese, who heads Mr. Biden’s National Economic Council, “we believe this will be the beginning of a real transformation in our vehicle infrastructure.”
The Infrastructure Bill at a Glance
It also features tens of billions each for rebuilding roads and bridges, upgrading freight and passenger rail systems and cleaning up environmental pollution.
The legislation was the product of intense negotiations spanning much of the first year of Mr. Biden’s presidency, and of the back-slapping, coalition-building politics the president has relished in a government career stretching back to the 1970s. Mr. Biden brokered agreements first with Senate Republicans, 18 of whom ultimately voted for the bill, and then with progressive Democrats in the House, who held up its final passage in order to raise pressure on centrists in Mr. Biden’s party to support a larger spending bill focused on climate change, early childhood and a wide range of social policy.
About $550 billion of the bill represents an increase over current spending levels. Researchers at the nonpartisan Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution estimate that money will increase federal infrastructure spending as a share of the economy by half over the next five years, putting it nearly on par with the infrastructure provisions of the New Deal under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. If Mr. Biden’s $1.85 trillion spending bill — including more spending on climate — also passes the House and Senate, they estimate, the increased infrastructure spending will eclipse the New Deal.