Joe Biden's infrastructure proposal prioritizes funds for emerging technologies
President Biden’s newly unveiled infrastructure proposal includes billions of dollars in proposed funding to invest in “technologies of the future,” with a particular focus on ensuring the U.S. can compete on the global stage against countries such as China. The proposed investment package, which totals around $2.25 trillion, proposes that over $180 billion be set aside for enhancing research and development of new and emerging technologies, along with addressing racial and gender inequalities in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.
“President Biden is calling on Congress to make smart investments in research and development, manufacturing and regional economic development, and in workforce development to give our workers and companies the tools and training they need to compete on the global stage,” the plan released by the White House reads.
The plan includes asking Congress to appropriate $50 billion to allow the National Science Foundation (NSF) to establish a technology directorate, which would research issues including semiconductors, biotechnology and advanced computing.
“We are one of the few major economies whose public investments in research and development have declined as a percent of GDP in the past 25 years,” the proposal reads. “Countries like China are investing aggressively in R&D, and China now ranks number two in the world in R&D expenditures.
“In order to win the 21st century economy, President Biden believes America must get back to investing in the researchers, laboratories, and universities across our nation," it adds.
In addition, Biden asked Congress to provide $30 billion to spur research and development in rural areas and job growth, along with $40 billion for upgrading research facilities and infrastructure nationwide. Half of the $40 billion will be reserved for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) and other minority institutions, along with funding for a national climate lab at an HBCU.
Biden proposed an additional $55 billion for ensuring the U.S. can lead on climate science research and development, and $25 billion to prioritize research and development efforts at HBCUs, such as through the creation of 200 centers of excellence for research efforts at HBCUs and other minority institutions.
The plan comes amid intense bipartisan focus on Capitol Hill around funding research and development around emerging technologies in order to compete with China.
Biden’s proposed $50 million for the National Science Foundation is half of what Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) proposed last year in the bipartisan Endless Frontiers Act.
The legislation is at the core of Schumer’s renewed effort to compete with China, with the Senate leader announcing last month that he had directed all relevant Senate committee chairs to begin work on a legislative proposal around enhancing U.S. technology efforts.
While several leading Republicans criticized the overall package on Wednesday, Schumer said in a statement that he “looks forward to working with President Biden to pass a big, bold plan that will drive America forward for decades to come.”
By the numbers: Biden's $2 trillion infrastructure plan
President Biden this week unveiled a massive infrastructure proposal that he says would deliver a "once-in-a-generation investment" in the United States.
Here are six key numbers from the wide-ranging measure:
The plan's overall estimated price tag.
The U.S. ranks 13th in the world in overall infrastructure, according to a World Economic Forum report in 2019. The Biden administration is using the ranking to emphasize the need to rebuild and upgrade roads, bridges and much more.
The proposal would be paid for with a slew of tax increases on corporations. The main corporate tax rate would be raised to 28%, which would be about half as high as what it was before the Republican tax cuts of 2017 that lowered the rate to 21%.
While the plan would spend most of the one-time funding over eight years, the corporate tax changes would raise the estimated $2 trillion over 15 years.
The proposal seeks to spend hundreds of billions on what are traditionally considered infrastructure projects, but it would do a lot more — including putting $400 billion toward expanding access to home- or community-based care for the elderly and people with disabilities.
Among the plan's investments in electric vehicles and their infrastructure are grants and incentives for public and private entities to build a network of 500,000 charging stations by 2030.
And here are some highlights from the plan's spending provisions:
- $174 billion in electric vehicle investments
- $115 billion for bridges and roads
- $20 billion to improve road safety
- $85 billion for existing public transit
- $80 billion for railways
- $50 billion to improve infrastructure resilience
- $25 billion for airports
- $17 billion for waterways and ports of entry
- $20 billion to reconnect urban neighborhoods cut off by highways
Water, Internet, electric:
- $45 billion to remove lead pipes
- $56 billion for modernizing water systems
- $100 billion for high-speed broadband
- $100 billion for the electric grid and clean energy
- $16 billion for putting "hundreds of thousands [of people] to work in union jobs" plugging oil and gas wells and restoring and reclaiming abandoned mines
- $10 billion for a Civilian Climate Corps
Homes, schools, buildings:
- $213 billion for affordable housing
- $100 billion for school construction
- $12 billion for community colleges
- $25 billion for child care facilities
- $18 billion for VA hospitals
- $10 billion for federal buildings
- $400 billion for home- or community-based care for the elderly and people with disabilities
- $180 billion for research and development, including investing $50 billion in the National Science Foundation and $35 billion "to achieve technology breakthroughs that address the climate crisis"
- $300 billion for manufacturing and business, including $50 billion for semiconductor research and manufacturing, $30 billion for pandemic preparedness and $52 billion for domestic manufacturers
- $100 billion in workforce development programs targeted at underserved groups, including $5 billion for violence prevention programs
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