After the passage of the COVID relief package, the American Jobs Plan is the next major item on President Biden’s agenda. The proposal would invest more than $2 trillion, primarily on infrastructure. Although infrastructure spending is widely popular among the public, Biden’s plan faces intense opposition from the GOP.
The Biden administration is making the case for the American Jobs Plan directly to the public. While all 50 states stand to benefit, Texans in particular should take note of what’s in it. Indeed, the White House recently released a document detailing what the American Jobs Plan will do for the Lone Star State.
“For decades, infrastructure in Texas has suffered from a systemic lack of investment,” reads the opening line of the document, noting that Texas got a C grade on its infrastructure report card. “The American Jobs Plan will make a historic investment in our nation’s infrastructure.”
When people think of infrastructure, they usually think of roads and bridges. Unfortunately, Texas’ roads and bridges are not in the best shape and this is a particularly big issue in a state where people tend to drive a lot. According to the Biden administration, Texas has 818 bridges and 19,400 miles of highway in poor condition, with every Texan driver incurring $709 in costs due to driving on poor roads. The largest piece of the American Jobs Plan is a $600 billion investment in transportation infrastructure, including $115 billion to repair roads and bridges.
Tackling climate change is another major plank of the American Jobs Plan. The plan includes $50 billion for resilient infrastructure to better handle natural disasters caused or contributed to by climate change, noting that Texas has experienced 67 extreme weather events that caused $200 billion in damage over the past decade. The Biden administration also notes that Texas is uniquely positioned to harness a revolution in clean energy, citing over 240,000 clean energy jobs that existed in the state in 2019. Toward this end, the American Jobs Plan includes $400 billion in clean energy tax credits plus $46 billion in clean energy investment through federal procurement.
Interestingly, the document mentions geothermal energy as an area where Texas can lead innovation. Texas has unique geothermal potential as it could use existing oil and gas wells to access geothermal resources. Texas’ oil and gas workforce could also be used to drill new geothermal wells, as is already being done in Canada. Ironically, Texas’ fossil fuel infrastructure and expertise could be used to help transition away from fossil fuels.
While infrastructure is the centerpiece of the American Jobs Plan, there’s more to it than that. There are investments made in things like manufacturing (a sector that employs over 900,000 Texans), childcare (48 percent of Texans live in a childcare desert), and veterans’ health (Texas is home to 1.5 million veterans). While Republican politicians might make semantic attacks that this isn’t “infrastructure,” such investments are sorely needed and some of them are even popular among Republican voters.
The American Jobs Plan faces an uncertain future in Congress. Although the Democrats can use reconciliation to get it past the filibuster, they cannot afford a single defector given the 50-50 split in the Senate (in the case of a tie, the Vice President casts the tie-breaking vote). It’s not yet clear that every Democratic senator will fall in line. But if Biden can get the American Jobs Plan passed into law, it could very well be his Roosevelt moment.
Photo: The White House / Wikimedia Commons