Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act provides critical grant funding for local government
Transportation, water, power and energy, and resilience projects are just a few of the areas covered through grant funding in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act
On August 10, the U.S. Senate passed the Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act (IIJA) in a 69-30 vote. This legislation would provide $973 billion over five years from FY 2022 through FY 2026. This includes $550 billion in new investments for all modes of transportation, water, power and energy, environmental remediation, public lands, broadband and resilience. In addition to providing authorizations for a wide variety of programs, the IIJA would also make supplemental funding to several federal agencies, including Agriculture, Commerce, Energy, Homeland Security, Interior, EPA, HHS and Transportation.
The objectives of the IIJA include:
- Investment in public transit
- Investment in passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak
- Dedicated bridge investments
- Investment in clean drinking water and wastewater infrastructure
- Access to reliable high-speed internet
- Investment in clean energy transmission and EV infrastructure
At the time this article was written, the bill was poised to be taken up by the U.S. House of Representatives, with the expectation that House leadership will move the bipartisan infrastructure deal in tandem with a larger reconciliation package. This package will address items from the American Jobs Plan that were left out of the final infrastructure compromise as well as provisions from the American Families Plan.
Both the House and Senate have taken the first step toward advancing the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package by recently passing a FY 2022 budget resolution. Over the next month, policymakers will work on crafting legislative language for the IIJA package.
Grant Programs Funded Under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act
There are several grant programs benefitting from Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act—both new and existing programs. Following are some of the actions the bill proposes that will have an impact on local government funding:
- Extends the Secure Rural Schools program for three years
- Significantly increases the number of competitive grant opportunities for transportation projects via supplemental appropriations to the U.S. Department of Transportation
- Provides $1 billion for Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) program
- Fully funds the Safeguarding Tomorrow through Ongoing Risk Mitigation (STORM) Act, which would allow state and local governments to utilize low interest loans for pre-disaster mitigation activities
- Makes changes to the Surface Transportation Block Grant (STBG) - $72 billion
- Increases funding for the Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects (INFRA) grant program - $8 billion
- Allocates funding through the PROTECT Grant Program, including competitive grants for planning ($140 million), resilience improvement grants ($980 million), community resilience and evacuation route grants ($140 million), and at-risk coastal infrastructure grants ($140 million)
- Creates a new competitive grant program to enhance the resilience of the electric grid - $5 billion
- Creates a new $3 billion Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation (SMART) Grant, which would offer funds to governments for demonstration projects for new technology, ranging from transportation to energy efficiency to connectivity
- Allocates $42 billion to the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment Program, which would make grants to states and then competitively award subgrants for qualifying broadband infrastructure, mapping, and adoption projects. NTIA would manage this program.
- Creates new State and Local Cybersecurity grant programs, including $250 million for competitive grants for rural electric cooperative or county-owned utilities through the Department of Energy and $1.3 billion through the Department of Homeland Security, of which states would be required to obligate no less than 80 percent of grant funds to local governments
The IIJA creates important funding opportunities for states, cities and counties. Local government leaders should keep their eye on this important legislation and start planning for related grant requests now.