After a long period of apathy, delays, and compromises, President Joe Biden’s $1.2 billion infrastructure bill has been signed into law. The bill aims to create jobs by improving bridges and roads across the country and by expanding access to broadband internet. Its passage comes as Biden’s job approval rating reached an all time low this month. According to the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll, Biden currently has a 41% job approval rating, plummeting 11 points from his 52% job approval last spring. Some of this drop can be attributed to the public apathy surrounding legislation the administration is working towards, and along with Biden’s frequent gaffes and tangents, this makes it easy for critics to question Biden’s mental fitness to be in office. Essentially, infrastructure doesn’t grab headlines as well as a video of the president sputtering about an anecdote from his youth in front of the United Nations general assembly.
There’s also Biden’s failure to deliver on many promises made while campaigning. According to Politifact, Biden has only fulfilled 12% of his campaign promises, with another 42% “in the works.” All of these things are causing Americans to be understandably frustrated with Biden’s performance thus far, and that frustration is the likely cause of his approval rating drop as well as the Republican swing in November’s off-year elections. One such campaign promise Biden made was improvements to America’s infrastructure, and although it is drastically scaled back from the package many progressive Democrats would have liked, this bill will cause vital improvements to public works.
According to the White House website, the bill will:
- Deliver clean water to all American families and eliminate the nation’s lead service lines.
- Ensure every American has access to reliable high-speed internet.
- Repair and rebuild our roads and bridges with a focus on climate change mitigation, resilience, equity, and safety for all users.
- Improve transportation options for millions of Americans and reduce greenhouse emissions through the largest investment in public transit in U.S. history.
- Upgrade our nation’s airports and ports to strengthen our supply chains and prevent disruptions that have caused inflation.
- Make the largest investment in passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak.
- Build a national network of electric vehicle (EV) chargers.
- Upgrade our power infrastructure to deliver clean, reliable energy across the country and deploy cutting-edge energy technology to achieve a zero-emissions future.
- Make our infrastructure resilient against the impacts of climate change, cyber-attacks, and extreme weather events.
- Deliver the largest investment in tackling legacy pollution in American history by cleaning up Superfund and brownfield sites, reclaiming abandoned mines, and capping orphaned oil and gas wells.
With this first key policy goal out of the way, Biden can now focus on passing his “Build Back Better” plan, which is more focused on social spending and less popular with Republicans and moderate Democrats like Senators Joe Manchin (D-VA) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ). The bipartisan bill should serve as a much-needed win for Biden and a Democratic party at its lowest point since the 2016 election. It’s main focus is on staying competitive with China and doing so in a climate-conscious manner. Considering that the American Society of Civil Engineers gave the U.S. a C- grade on overall infrastructure, the upgrades are imperative.