On Nov.15 President Joe Biden signed into law the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, H.R. 3684. The US House of Representatives approved the legislation on Nov. 5, following months of tense negotiations and delays and earlier action by the US Senate. The bipartisan infrastructure bill provides $1.2 trillion over eight years for infrastructure improvements, including more than $500 billion for core infrastructure projects such as roads, broadband, and electric utilities improvements. Of note to the University of Oregon are the investments in broadband equity, wildfire risk reduction, and University Transportation Centers.
As anticipated, the bipartisan infrastructure agreement provides $65 billion in new broadband investments. This funding includes a state grant program to facilitate broadband deployment; dedicated funding for middle mile broadband infrastructure; two digital equity and inclusion grant programs championed by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) in the Digital Equity Act; and additional funds for the Emergency Broadband Benefit program, now renamed the Affordable Connectivity Fund. The legislation includes $50 billion to improve climate resilience and $65 billion in clean energy, including clean energy transmission and smart grid technologies that deliver flexibility and resilience.
To support wildfire risk reduction, the bill provides $20 million for FY2022-2026 for activities conducted under the Joint Fire Science Program, of which $10 million shall be made available to the Secretary of the Interior; and $10 million shall be made available to the Secretary of Agriculture.
The bill also makes updates to the University Transportation Centers (UTC) program and provides $405 million in base mandatory funding plus $95 million in supplemental appropriations over the next five years, FY2022-2026. The National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC), one of seven U.S. Department of Transportation national university transportation centers, is a program of the Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC) led Portland State University in partnership with the University of Oregon,Oregon Institute of Technology, University of Utah, University of Arizona, and University of Texas at Arlington.
A more detailed analysis of the bill by the Association of Public & Land-grant Universities (APLU) can be found here.
Congress has yet to pass the Democrats’ budget reconciliation legislation, the Build Back Better (BBB) Act, which does contain substantial investments in research and higher education. The APLU summary of BBB is linked here.