America’s physical infrastructure is the backbone of our economy, impacting how we get to work and school, how much groceries cost at the store, the size of our water and sewer bills, and so much more. The availability and quality of infrastructure determines where companies locate and where jobs are created. In short, Americans depend on our nation’s infrastructure every single day.
Yet, despite its critical importance to our lives and our economy, we have allowed our nation’s infrastructure to fall into a state of disrepair. Today, we spend less on infrastructure as a percentage of GDP than at any time in the past twenty years, and the results are plain to see. Every day, Americans get stuck in traffic jams, drive on potholed roads, cross bridges in disrepair, and ride in overcrowded subways. Far too many students attend school in buildings that are crumbling, and millions of Americans lack access to high-speed internet. Local governments are stuck with the impossible choice of allowing water and sewer systems to deteriorate further or raising local taxes.
The American Society of Civil Engineers says we must spend $1.6 trillion above current levels just to get our infrastructure to a state of good repair. Our deteriorating infrastructure already costs the economy close to $200 billion a year, and if we do not make these needed investments now, they will simply cost us more later.
The Senate Democrats’ “Blueprint to Rebuild America’s Infrastructure” would make a historic $1 trillion federal investment to modernize our crumbling infrastructure and create more than 15 million jobs that our economy desperately needs.
Our Blueprint will improve the daily lives of millions of American families by creating a 21st century transportation network, rebuilding water systems and schools, making our electric system stronger and our communities more resilient, and much more. Our Blueprint will invest directly in communities because Democrats know that we can’t fix a problem of this magnitude simply by tolling more highways or privatizing water and sewer system that profit on ratepayers. We will prioritize projects and communities all across the country. We will have robust set-asides for small towns, rural communities, tribal lands, and underserved populations.
At a time when our middle class is struggling, wages are stagnating, and people are working longer hours just to get by, we will create 15 million new jobs. Moreover, these jobs will be in sectors of the economy especially hard hit by the Great Recession and that have been slower to recover, like the construction trades and manufacturing. And, these will be decent paying middle-class jobs that cannot be outsourced.
Instead of undermining American workers, we will adhere to basic principles that should govern all federal infrastructure spending:
- Buy America provisions to rebuild America with American products
- Strong protections for working men and women, like Davis-Bacon prevailing wages
- Strengthened participation of minority- and women-owned businesses
- Accelerated project delivery while adhering to important environmental protections
Lastly, our Blueprint is fiscally responsible, closing tax loopholes used by corporations and superwealthy individuals to offset associated costs.
Overview of investments that will create 15 million new jobs over the next 10 years:
Rebuilding America’s Roads & Bridges: $100 billion – Creating 1.3 Million New Jobs
Problem: According to the Society of Civil Engineers, almost one-third of our nation’s roads are in poor or mediocre condition, and more than 40 percent of urban highways are congested. The current national backlog of structurally deficient bridges is $123 billion and the maintenance backlog of the Federal-aid highway system is over $800 billion. Incredibly, Americans make more than two hundred million trips every day across almost 59,000 structurally deficient bridges. These crumbling and out-of-date roads and bridges have real costs to American families and businesses. Each year our deficient roads and bridges cost Americans an estimated $154 billion, and Americans spend 5.5 billion hours stuck in traffic.
Solution: We will provide a major increase in federal funding to repair crumbling roads and bridges on the Federal-aid Highway System, to ensure efficient and safe passenger travel and the movement of freight. Additionally, a portion of this new funding would be available on an incentive basis to encourage States and Metropolitan Planning Organizations to set and achieve ambitious performance goals for improving local infrastructure conditions. We also believe that an infrastructure package should include a bipartisan plan that ensures the long-term solvency of the Federal Highway Trust Fund in order to prevent our roads and bridges from returning to a state of disrepair after this initial investment.
Revitalize America’s Main Streets: $100 billion – Creating 1.3 Million New Jobs
Problem: From our largest cities to our smallest towns, communities across the country are struggling to meet the challenges of changing populations and aging infrastructure. Local communities are plagued by congestion, blighted buildings, a lack of affordable housing, and inefficient transportation networks. Too often, jobs are available only in office parks distant from residential neighborhoods, resulting in unnecessarily expensive and time-consuming commutes. In many cases, these problems directly and adversely affect the local economy, job creation and public safety, whether from blighted buildings or from pedestrian fatalities, which increased nearly 10 percent in 2015. There is a $26 billion backlog of physical repairs to remediate health, safety and other threats in publically-owned housing. Cities and towns have new ideas for how to improve safety, enhance quality of life, generate economic development, address housing challenges, and improve mobility through innovation. Collectively, these local initiatives could transform the nation, one neighborhood at a time. However, too little funding is available to support local efforts to revitalize and modernize communities.
Solution: We will make a historic investment in our cities, towns, and rural communities, to address their unique challenges. Federal funding will enable communities to rethink their downtowns, creating places for people to live, work, and thrive. Projects could include safety improvements, congestion reduction, grade crossings, resilient infrastructure projects, intelligent transportation systems, bicycle and pedestrian safety projects, and other locally-determined priorities. Funding could also be used to address housing challenges, remove blighted buildings, or remediate lead and other hazards in the 1.25 million homes where children are at high risk of lead poisoning. Further, funding could be used to support solutions geared toward helping the more than 11.4 million households that pay more than half of their income monthly on rent, including expanding existing tax incentives and other affordable housing federal programs.