On November 15, President Biden signed the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (H.R.3684). The new law provides $1.2 trillion in total funding over ten years, including $550 billion in new spending during the next five years. The new funding includes $284 billion for the nation’s surface-transportation network and $266 billion for other core infrastructure.
The nation’s schools and learners will benefit from many of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act’s investments, including:
- $55 billion for upgrading the nation’s water systems, including $200 million dedicated to eliminating lead contamination in schools;
- $5 billion for school districts to acquire clean-energy school buses; and
- $500 million for schools and non-profit organizations to improve energy efficiency.
The new law also reauthorizes and extends, until 2023, the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act, which provides supplemental assistance to schools in 700 counties that have federal forest land.
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act includes significant funding for broadband infrastructure that will help close the “Homework Gap:”
- $42.45 billion for a new Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment Program to help states close the digital divide in rural and other areas that lack sufficient broadband connectivity;
- $2.75 billion for the Digital Equity Act to support digital inclusion activities and promote increased broadband adoption; and
- $14.2 billion for the Broadband Benefit Program, renamed by the new law as the “Affordable Connectivity Program,” to provide $30 per month broadband service subsidies (higher in some limited circumstances) to qualified low-income households.
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act provides new policy and funding for workforce development initiatives, including:
- Directing the U.S. Department of Energy to create three competitive grants for fiscal year 2022:
- $10 million for training individuals to conduct energy audits or surveys of commercial and residential buildings;
- $10 million for colleges and universities to establish training and assessment centers focused on energy-efficient construction; and
- $10 million for non-profit organizations that collaborate with employers to deliver training in energy efficiency and renewable energy industry skills.
- $5 million for a Transportation Workforce Outreach Program promoting awareness of career opportunities across the transportation sector;
- Establishing a new Commercial Vehicle Apprenticeship pilot program to provide up to 3,000 apprentices younger than 21 with 120 hours of experience driving commercial motor vehicles; and
- Authorizing the U.S. Department of Transportation funded training to be delivered by vocational schools in addition to community colleges. The existing DOT transportation workforce development curriculum program is expanded to include hands-on training opportunities.