The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, passed by the Senate before its August recess, would appropriate over $1 trillion to federal- and state-level infrastructure projects. If the bill passes the House, states can expect to receive billions in federal funding for various projects.
In general, appropriations to states vary by the state’s size and population. Some smaller states like Alaska, Wyoming, and Montana would receive disproportionate funding per capita under the legislation while larger states would receive comparably low funding per resident.
The policy priorities of its lawmakers are reflected in how states plan to use these funds. In Republican-led states, most funding in the bill would go toward traditional hard infrastructure like roads and bridges; by contrast, in Democratic states, a far larger proportion of funds are delegated toward development of public transportation, water systems, and miscellaneous projects like railroads, charging stations for electric cars, and other initiatives.
President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats have marketed the bill as a once-in-a-generation investment, comparing its expenditures to the interstate project started by President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
The $1.2 trillion spending package is one of the most extensive pieces of legislation in decades. Coming in at over 2,700 pages, the behemoth bill covers a range of issues far beyond the scope of merely improving traditional infrastructure.
Here’s what’s inside the legislation—and which states will get what.
Breakdown of Big Ticket Items in the Bill
Only about a tenth of the bill—$110 billion—is devoted to roads and bridges.
Another $66 billion goes toward railroad projects. For example, Amtrak, the state-owned passenger train service, will receive $19.22 billion in grants for different rail lines across the country. An additional $1.32 billion is granted to the Federal Railroad Administration, with an additional $225 million investment into railroad research and development by the government office. The legislation also allocates $1.5 billion per year for five years, a total of $7.5 billion, toward the development of intercity railroads.
Another substantial portion of the bill, $39 billion, goes toward improvement in public transportation. These expenditures include the largest ever allocation, $405 million over several years, toward the so-called “University Transportation Centers” program. The program, a longtime mainstay in U.S. code, is designed primarily to encourage universities to “come together to form a unique center of transportation excellence on a specific research topic” according to the Department of Transportation. Schools can receive grants under the program for researching and developing transportation projects.
Forty-two billion dollars go toward improving airports and shipping ports across the nation.
A little less than a tenth of the allocations, $86 billion, is devoted to an array of climate and clean energy initiatives. These include $7.5 billion for electric vehicle charging stations, $7.5 billion for R&D of buses and ferries using “clean energy,” and $21 billion toward combating pollution. Another $50 billion goes toward miscellaneous climate projects.
Biggest Funding Winners
The bill directs funds for these various infrastructure projects toward all 50 U.S. states—but some will get far more money per head than others.
The five biggest allocations in the bill are $44.56 billion to California, $35.44 billion to Texas, $36.92 billion to New York, $19.1 billion to Florida, and $17.81 billion to Illinois. But even though these states receive the highest allocations by far, they receive among the lowest per capita: Californians can expect $1,100 per person, Texans $1,200, and Floridians only $889; New Yorkers and Illinoisans each are allocated $1,400 per person.
On average, approximately 65 percent of funding for these states goes toward hard infrastructure items like roads and bridges. The rest of the funding goes to public transportation, water, and miscellaneous expenditures like railroads, charging stations for electric cars, and other initiatives.
But some states and regions receive far more per person in the bill. Alaska is the biggest winner per capita, at $4.93 billion total, or $6,700 per person delegated toward infrastructure improvement in the state. Sparsely-populated Wyoming comes in second place, receiving $2.85 billion total, $4,500 per person. The District of Columbia receives only $3.01 billion total for infrastructure improvements in the capital, but this works out to a substantial $4,300 per person. Montana and Vermont also receive a notable $3,600 each per capita.
Among these per capita winners, a significantly larger portion of spending goes toward hard infrastructure, nearly 70 percent. Of those, the District of Columbia is an outlier; in the capital, only 44 percent goes toward roads and bridges. It receives one of the highest percentage allocations in the country for public transportation—nearly 40 percent.
Other Takeaways in Funding
In general, funding in the bill splits on party-line priorities. States that voted Republican in 2020 would receive a far higher share of spending toward roads and bridges, while putting very little toward other projects; and states that voted for Democrats in 2020 would receive far more funding for the more ambitious projects in the bill. These divisions almost certainly reflect the policy priorities of lawmakers for their states during the creation of the bill.
For example, red-leaning Wyoming received no money whatsoever for public transportation and only about $500 million total for other projects. In Republican-led Ohio, almost 75 percent of funding goes toward hard infrastructure.
In the South as well, funding is mostly limited to hard infrastructure. Only 9 percent of Texas’s funding would go to public transportation. In South Carolina, about 73 percent goes exclusively to roads and bridges. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) was a huge proponent of the legislation, but shrunk from the extra expenses popular among Democratic lawmakers. In Florida, about 70 percent is devoted to hard infrastructure.
By contrast, regions that voted for Biden in 2020 received a far larger share of funding for public transportation, water, and other projects.
For example, over $9.5 billion is devoted to public transportation alone in California, with an additional $5.6 billion for water and other projects. In New York, only about half of all funding goes to hard infrastructure; instead, the state would receive the highest funding in the nation—$9.8 billion—for public transportation. In Washington state, over a third, about 38 percent, goes to similar projects.
What’s Next for the Infrastructure Bill
Before this money can be allocated, the bill must make it through the House of Representatives to get to the president’s desk.
In contrast to more controversial pieces of Democratic legislation like Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) $3.5 trillion budget and Sen. Ed Markey’s (D-Mass.) “For the People Act,” the infrastructure bill is unlikely to face serious challenges in the future. Moderate and progressive Democrats are united behind the bill—especially after moderates joined with House progressives to advance Sanders’ resolution after a weeks-long dispute among the factions.
In a closed-door meeting with the leader of those moderates, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) promised that the House would consider the bill before Sept. 27. With the Democrats’ 220 seats, an eight vote majority, the bill is unlikely to face any serious hurdles to passage.
It is also unlikely that Republicans will unanimously oppose the bill, which 19 Senate Republicans voted for.
Nor will the bill face opposition from the White House. Biden considers the bill an essential element of his “build back better” agenda, and focused much of his energy during the campaign on infrastructural investment.
In view of this, by far the most likely future for the infrastructure bill is a speedy passage in September followed by an eager signature from the president.