US lawmakers approve $1tn infrastructure bill
The US Congress has passed a landmark one trillion dollar (€865bn) infrastructure package, following the Senate’s earlier agreement. President Biden now only has to sign it into law, effectively freeing $15bn in funding for electric transportation, after he had to make concessions.
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The trillion-dollar package includes $7.5 billion for expanding electric vehicle charging infrastructure nationwide and $7.5 billion for electric buses. However, Biden had to make concessions. For example, for the national network with 500,000 EV charging stations, the compromise has been reached leaving $7.5Bn of the $15Bn Biden had initially envisioned.
In the briefing following the vote on Friday, the White House now specified: “The legislation will provide funding for deployment of EV chargers along highway corridors to facilitate long-distance travel and within communities to provide convenient charging where people live, work, and shop. This investment will support the President’s goal of building a nationwide network of 500,000 EV chargers to accelerate the adoption of EVs.” Note, however, that the half a million chargers are now a goal and not a set target.
For the purchase of electric school and public transport buses, the bipartisan draft now also provides $7.5Bn, instead of the previously wanted $45Bn.
The new deal also includes $66 billion for railroad operator Amtrak to fund a backlog of repairs and expand rail routes across the US.
Biden called the passage of the bill “a monumental step forward as a nation,” saying: “We did something long overdue, that long has been talked about in Washington but never actually been done.”
With this Friday’s vote, it will now be sent to Biden, who will sign it into law but not this weekend. The 228-206 vote is a victory for Biden against a backdrop of differences between Democratic progressives and moderates who clashed over the President’s $1.85 trillion ‘Build Back Better’ budget bill to expand social security programs and enact stronger climate programs. Progressives were worried moderate Democrats would back the social and climate bill before voting on the infrastructure bill. The deal Democrats struck that allowed passage of the infrastructure bill Friday promised that the larger bill would get a vote later this month.
The infrastructure package still included votes from 13 Republicans, while six Democrats voted against it, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. The group dubbed The Squad is among the most left-wing and progressive members of the House and found key liberal policies had been dropped in exchange for the bipartisan win. A win nonetheless that had gotten the infrastructure bill reportedly through Senate in August.
The fight is not over, however. In the ‘Build Back Better’ plan mentioned above, the Biden administration promises to increase the federal tax credit for electric vehicles to $12,500, however only for those assembled by union workers in the US. Currently, the maximum is $7,500.
The House will now move forward with said social and environmental spending bill favoured by liberal lawmakers on the back of the infrastructure package.
Update 23 May 2022:
The first nationwide US funding programme for electric school buses is now starting. The first tranche, provided by the US government through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), includes $500 million for the procurement of electric school buses and their required charging infrastructure. In total, the infrastructure package will support electric school buses with $5 billion over the next five years. The EPA is accepting applications for the first tranche of $500 million from now until 19 August 2022.
usatoday.com, bbc.co.ukwhitehouse.gov, update: epa.gov
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