Policy Update: President Biden Unveils Jobs and Infrastructure Package - American Farmland Trust

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Policy Update: President Biden Unveils Jobs and Infrastructure Package

On Wednesday March 31, President Biden outlined his $2 trillion, 8-year “American Jobs Plan.” This spending package will invest heavily in new infrastructure and job creation, with a cross-cutting emphasis on social justice and climate. The Plan, as proposed, would modernize roads, incentivize electric vehicles, improve water systems, support research, invest in manufacturing, expand access to in-home care for older adults, and much more. The Administration proposes to pay for this spending over the course of 15 years with several changes to the tax code, including an increase in corporate tax rates from 21% to 28%. It should be noted that there  are no proposed changes within the Plan to estate or capital gains taxes, both of which are of particular concern to agriculture.

At present, the Plan consists of just an outline of Administrative priorities, with actual legislation being drafted by Congress in the coming weeks. Democrats hope to pass the bill by July 4, although there is expected to be significant pushback from Republicans. The major question is whether the Administration will try to pass the package through the normal process (which would require bipartisan support in the Senate), or reconciliation (as was used for the American Rescue Plan Act passed in March). If the package was passed through reconciliation, that would be the last use of the mechanism until FY 2022.

The bill has several provisions that relate to agriculture, including $100 billion to expand broadband access, and $10 billion for a “Civilian Climate Corps.” The bill also recognizes the concept of “nature-based infrastructure,” and pledges to protect and restore lands, forests, wetlands, and watersheds. The Plan calls on Congress to “invest in protection from extreme wildfires, coastal resilience to sea-level rise and hurricanes, support for agricultural resources management and climate-smart technologies… Additionally, the President’s plan provides funding for the western drought crisis by investing in water efficiency and recycling programs, Tribal Water Settlements, and dam safety.”

The bill also pledges to invest in “rural and Tribal communities, including by providing 100% broadband coverage, rebuilding crumbling infrastructure… providing research and development funding to land grant universities, and positioning the U.S. agricultural sector to lead the shift to net-zero emissions while providing new economic opportunities for farmers.” President Biden also proposes $5 billion for a new Rural Partnership Program to “help rural regions, including Tribal Nations, build on their unique assets and realize their vision for inclusive community and economic development. This program will empower rural regions by supporting locally-led planning and capacity building efforts, and providing flexible funding to meet critical needs.”

The other provisions are outlined below (from the New York Times):

Transportation

Modernize 20,000 miles of highways and roads; repair 10,000 bridges; and, by 2030, build a network of 500,000 electric vehicle chargers. Estimated cost in billions:

  • Electric vehicle incentives: $174
  • Roads and bridges: $115
  • Public transit: $85
  • Passenger and freight railways: $80
  • Disaster resilience: $50
  • Other: $35
  • Airports: $25
  • Improve road safety: $20
  • Underserved communities: $20
  • Waterways and ports: $17

Buildings and Utilities

One of the largest investments includes more than $200 billion in tax credits and grants to improve and build affordable housing. Estimated cost in billions:

  • Affordable housing: $213
  • High-speed broadband: $100
  • Electric grid and clean energy: $100
  • Public schools: $100
  • Water systems: $66
  • Eliminate lead pipes: $45
  • Childcare facilities: $25
  • Veterans hospitals: $18
  • Community colleges: $12
  • Federal buildings: $10

Jobs and Innovation

The plan goes beyond physical infrastructure, proposing more than $500 billion to invest in the manufacturing sector, worker training and research and development. Estimated cost in billions:

  • Domestic manufacturing: $52
  • National Science Foundation: $50
  • Supply chain support: $50
  • Semiconductor industry: $50
  • Work force development: $48
  • Clean energy manufacturing: $46
  • Research infrastructure: $40
  • New dislocated worker program: $40
  • Climate technology: $35
  • Small-business support: $31
  • Research and development: $30
  • Pandemic preparedness: $30
  • Research at HBCUs: $25
  • Community investment: $20
  • Innovation and competitiveness: $14
  • Underserved communities: $12
  • New rural partnership program: $5

In-Home Care

The plan also includes $400 billion to expand access to caregiving for those who are older and those with disabilities, and to improve pay and benefits for caregivers.

About the Author
Emily Liss

Federal Policy Associate

eliss@farmland.org

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