Opinion | Price worth paying: Federal Infrastructure bill invests in Iowa

The Bipartisan infrastructure bill invests in the future and in Iowa


Grace Smith

Cars drive across the Iowa Avenue bridge in Iowa City on Monday, Aug. 23, 2021.

Sophia Meador, Opinions Columnist

After months of negotiation, a substantial bipartisan infrastructure bill passed the Senate. After passing the budget in the House of Representatives on Aug. 24, this legislation is clearly a victory for the Biden administration, and an important investment in creating a sustainable environment for Iowa and the country.

In late March, President Joe Biden introduced the American Jobs Plan for $2 trillion. With heavy pushback from Republicans, the bill underwent months of negotiation. On Aug. 10, the bill was passed by the Senate with a $1 trillion price tag.

After considerable downsizes, the bill now includes fewer transit and clean energy initiatives than the original plan introduced in March. However, this bill marks the “infrastructure decade,” Biden said.

The bill would provide:

  • $100 billion for repairing highways, bridges, and roads
  • $66 billion to improve Amtrak and reduce the worsening backlog
  • $65 billion in efforts to bolster the nation’s power grid
  • $65 billion to strengthen internet coverage across the country
  • $55 billion to improve the nation’s drinking water
  • Funding for several other infrastructure projects across the country

 To pay for the massive investment, the White House and Congress have considered several measures. According to the bill, Congress plans to repurpose unused COVID-19 relief funds to pay for the legislation.

Congress is looking to pay for several parts of the bill by saving money elsewhere. Despite Biden’s claims that households making less than $400,000 a year won’t see a tax increase, many fear that this will lead to higher tax rates.

While supporters of the bill are assuring Americans the future payout of improved infrastructure will offset the cost, the bill will increase the national deficit. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the bill will add an estimated $256 billion to the deficit.

While this bill is obviously expensive, investment in infrastructure is far overdue, and the cost won’t diminish if we keep putting it off. With dire warnings of an uninhabitable planet, we must take action now to create sustainable initiatives. Better infrastructure will bring numerous positive benefits to the American people and lead to a brighter future.

Investments in clean energy will cut future costs attributed to climate change.  The bill includes initiatives to boost renewable energy production, build charging stations for electric vehicles, and increase funding for climate-related research. Investing in clean and renewable energy sources will cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, the leading contributor to climate change.

Improved infrastructure is not only a climate initiative, but it will also benefit the economy. This bill will create hundreds of thousands of sustainable, good-paying jobs. Better jobs will pump more dollars into the U.S. economy.

This legislation will also have positive impacts here in Iowa. The bill empowers Iowa as a hustler of renewable energy. Iowa is a prime location for boosting renewable energy with ideal conditions for wind and solar power. With an abundance of renewable energy, the state will help power the nation through an expansion of transmission lines.

Additionally, Iowa is well-known for having some of the worst roads and bridges in the nation. If passed, this bill will spend $100 billion on improving and building better roadways across the country, especially in Iowa. This will have a positive impact on drivers across the state who routinely travel on the state’s deteriorating roads and bridges.

Finally, Iowa ranks among the top five states with the worst internet. A priority of this bill is to improve internet access across the nation, which will better connect thousands of Iowans.

Yes, improving the nation’s crumbling infrastructure is expensive and a massive undertaking. But the problems addressed will leave a more prosperous country for the future. We need to pass this bill and keep pushing for more funding for infrastructure.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.

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