The Biden administration has officially unveiled its $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan as part of its Build Back Better agenda. The plan seeks to create millions of jobs, tackle climate change, and make the United States more competitive vis-a-vis China. Although commonly referred to as an infrastructure plan, the American Jobs Plan also includes hundreds of billions of dollars for items like R&D and the care economy.
Although the plan is smaller than initial reports suggested (and smaller than many progressives would like), Texas would still stand to reap major benefits should it be enacted by Congress. “This ambitious plan will not only help Americans recover from the struggles we’ve faced during the last year — it will also help families look forward,” Texas Democratic Party chair Gilberto Hinojosa said in a statement. “Democrats’ American Jobs Plan will create good-paying union jobs, rebuild our ports and highways, get broadband to folks in rural communities, strengthen unions, and tackle the climate crisis to keep Texans safe.”
One facet of the American Jobs Plan that Texans should certainly take note of is its investment in the power grid. The plan calls for $100 billion to be spent on energy infrastructure, including money to create a more reliable and resilient grid. This would start with a tax credit to incentivize the private sector to invest tens of billions into the grid and create at least 20 gigawatts of high-voltage capacity power lines. The Biden administration also seeks to create a Grid Deployment Authority at the Department of Energy, which would allow for better leverage of existing rights-of-way and find ways to spur additional grid investment.
America’s energy infrastructure is in dire need of an upgrade, something Texans understand better than anyone after the February winter storm. A major problem that contributed to the Texas blackouts was the failure to winterize the state’s power plants, resulting in natural gas, coal, and even nuclear plants going offline. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg has stated that the American Jobs Plan would include funds to support the winterization and weatherization of energy sources.
Broadband is another major part of the American Jobs Plan that would be very beneficial for Texas. Millions of Texans in both rural and urban areas still lack broadband access, and rural Texans are particularly at risk as the state slashes subsidies that help phone and internet providers deliver service to sparsely populated areas.
The American Jobs Plan would invest $100 billion to ensure that every American has broadband access. The Biden administration seeks to build digital infrastructure to bring broadband access to areas where it does not exist and lower costs to ensure access for people in areas where it does exist but is too expensive. The United States has some of the highest broadband prices in the OECD and the plan would seek to reduce costs by promoting transparency and competition.The plan is still not final and Biden has indicated that he is open to compromise.
In spite of bipartisan popularity, the American Jobs Plan will likely face a tough battle in Congress. The corporate tax hike meant to pay for the plan is a particular point of contention among Republicans and some Democrats. But if the plan, or some version of it, does end up getting passed, it will mean Texas and the country will get some long overdue investments.