Leaders in the federal government are currently negotiating a historic investment in the nation’s infrastructure. This is a critical moment to both celebrate and advocate for proposals that will benefit rural communities. During this time, funding decisions could change rapidly, and now is the time to push for them to change for the better.

No matter where you live, people need good jobs, clean air, and clean water. After years of economic decline in rural areas, we urgently need the federal government to fund infrastructure to help our communities.

On July 28, 2021, the Biden administration released a fact sheet on the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal. The Bipartisan Deal is a great start and includes critical priorities identified in the RDI-supported Rural Policy Action Summit. However, the Bipartisan Deal doesn’t do enough to address the needs of rural communities.

MULTIPLE INFRASTRUCTURE DEALS

There are two resolutions on infrastructure. The House passed the INVEST in America Act on July 1. The Senate’s version is the “Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal,” led by a small group of Democratic and Republican Senators. The House bill has more ambitious funding programs, especially for rural communities.

There are multiple ways Congress can combine the more ambitious funding of the INVEST in America Act with the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal. Some are advocating for the Senate to approve a version of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal and then make further improvements through reconciliation.


ANALYZING THE BIPARTISAN DEAL

The July 28 Bipartisan Deal combines and modifies previous proposals, including 13% of the total Build Back Better package, 21% of the original American Jobs Plan, and 59% of the original American Jobs Plan proposal.

The package includes many historic investments for vital programs for rural communities. Highlights of this version include:

  1. $65 billion for broadband
  2. $110 billion of new funds for roads, bridges, and major projects
  3. $55 billion for drinking water
  4. $39 billion for public transit and likely to include Senate Transportation Bill (S1931)
  5. Climate crisis funding, including $73 billion in clean energy transmission, $7.5 billion in electric vehicle infrastructure, $21 billion for environmental clean-up (including energy facilities like coal mine restoration) — likely to include Clean Energy for America Bill (S1298)

There are areas of this version that provide less funding than the proposed American Jobs Plan, including:

  1. $9 billion reduction in transit funding
  2. 21% reduction in clean water funding
  3. 93% decrease in community restoration funding
  4. 87% reduction in electric vehicle funding

For a more detailed analysis of the differences between the infrastructure plans, see The Progressive Caucus Action Fund’s Legislative Analysis.
 

AUGUST 10 UPDATE

On August 10, the Senate passed the infrastructure bill. Here's a sampling of what rural advocates are saying.


“Small businesses are applauding the step towards critical investment in our roads, bridges, and broadband networks, which will support entrepreneurs across the country,” said Co-Executive Directors of Main Street Alliance Chanda Causer and Stephen Michael. “But we know these aren’t the only critical needs for small businesses... We are calling on Congress and the United States to, once and for all, guarantee paid leave at the federal level to help build back businesses, support working families and generate long-term economic growth. With small businesses supporting nearly half of the workforce, and lack of access to paid leave and child care continuing to force women out of the workforce, these larger investments must move along in tandem to this infrastructure deal. One without the other will limit an equitable or sustainable recovery."
Main Street Alliance Statement

"It’s important to remind ourselves why the outcome of [the reconcilliation] process is so important for rural people and communities. Rural infrastructure—from roads and bridges to clean energy systems—is on the docket, as are billions and billions in funding for high-speed internet in rural places. On top of that, there’s potential to extend those $250-$300 per child tax credits that kicked into gear last month. In general, trillions of dollars could be available for improving rural health care, antipoverty programs, climate action, job creation, housing, local food infrastructure and much more."
-Bryce Oates, The Daily Yonder

How is your organization communicating about infrastructure? Contact Heartland Fund and let us know.