Federal buildings, vehicles set to go green in Biden's $2T infrastructure package
- By Natalie Alms
- Mar 31, 2021
President Joe Biden's outlined his administration's proposed $2 trillion infrastructure package in a speech in Pittsburgh on Wednesday. The plan is being billed as a job creation effort and includes a push to leverage the purchasing power of the federal government to drive adoption of green technology.
"It's not a plan that tinkers around the edges," Biden said in his speech. "It's a once in a generation investment in America, unlike anything we've seen or done since we built the interstate highway system and the space race decades ago."
For the general public, the promises are big: universal broadband, clean drinking water with lead pipes replaced, roads and bridges repaired and electric vehicle stations from coast to coast.
For federal government operations, the stakes are high as well. The proposal includes $10 billion for modernizing federal buildings. That includes investment into the Federal Capital Revolving Fund for major purchases, construction and renovation of federal facilities. The proposal also includes $18 billion to modernize Veterans Affairs hospitals and clinics and an effort to convert the federal vehicle inventory including the Post Office fleet, to electric or hydrogen power.
"The federal government owns an enormous fleet of vehicles, which are going to be transitioned to clean electric vehicles and hydrogen vehicles made right here in the United States of America by American workers with American products," Biden said. "When we make all of these investments, we're going to make sure as the executive order I signed early on [mandated] that we buy American."
These federal infrastructure initiatives also connect to the plan's goal of realizing carbon-free electricity by 2035.
"Millions of workers serve the public from outdated, inefficient, and sometimes unsafe working conditions" within the "office buildings, courthouses, and other facilities in every state," says the administration's release on the plan.
Biden's plan also includes a request for a combined $48 billion investment in workforce development initiatives and worker protection. The proposal sets aside part of that money for workforce development infrastructure, like career pathway programs in middle and high schools.
These policies will be accompanied by strengthened labor standards and a focus on equity, the Biden administration says. The White House included a $10 billion ask for funding for labor enforcement, including money for agencies like those that that deal with discrimination, wages and safety standards.
The plan is funded by a proposed hike in the corporate tax rate to 28%.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) slammed the proposal as a "liberal wish-list" and a "major missed opportunity by this administration." McConnell added that the "plan is not about rebuilding America's backbone."
Lobbyists are pleased with the emphasis on the tech sector, but are less thrilled about the proposed tax hike.
"President Biden highlights several of our shared priorities, including ensuring all Americans have access to high-speed broadband, harnessing the power of technology to tackle the climate crisis, and investing in STEM education and workforce training to develop students and workers from all backgrounds and skill levels," said ITI president and CEO Jason Oxman in a statement. "However … they should not come at the expense of weakening the United States' internationally competitive tax policies."
Natalie Alms is a staff writer at FCW covering the federal workforce. She is a recent graduate of Wake Forest University and has written for the Salisbury (N.C.) Post. Connect with Natalie on Twitter at @AlmsNatalie.