Congress passed a landmark bipartisan infrastructure bill late Friday that will bring billions of dollars to the New York City region, funding projects like elevator upgrades to the subway system and upgrades to Amtrak for the long-stalled Gateway Project to build tunnels under the Hudson River.
The infrastructure bill adds $550 billion to existing transportation spending for a total of $1.2 trillion, and now heads to President Joe Biden who is expected to quickly sign the legislation.
“Tonight, we took a monumental step forward as a nation,” Biden said in a statement early Saturday morning. “The United States House of Representatives passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, a once-in-generation bipartisan infrastructure bill that will create millions of jobs, turn the climate crisis into an opportunity, and put us on a path to win the economic competition for the 21st Century.”
"Congress has made good on its promise to deliver infrastructure funding through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, meaning New York will be able to make critical investments in our roads, bridges, and transit,” Governor Kathy Hochul said in a statement Saturday. “This funding also helps make our infrastructure more resilient to climate change and will expand access to clean water, supporting New York's economic growth and improving public health.”
For the New York City region, the bill could be transformative, said Carlo Scissura, president and chief executive officer of the New York Building Congress. Among other projects, funding will go to building the extension of the Second Avenue subway line, the revitalization of the Port Authority bus terminal, upgrading the subway’s signals and improving trip times, and bridge and road upgrades for Long Island and Westchester.
“It really does transform the physical part of our region in a way that we haven't had a federal investment like this in decades honestly,” Scissura said, and added, “I think we really did well on this plan.”
Amtrak’s high-speed rail proposals for the Northeast corridor are slated to receive more than $6.5 billion for capital renewal backlog projects, Newsday reported, as well as $3.6 billion for intercity passenger rail grants. JFK International Airport could get $295 million and LaGuardia Airport $150 million for upgrades and repairs, Newsday said, and the state may see $90 billion for water infrastructure upgrades and $100 million for the state to expand and subsidize broadband coverage. Rep. Ritchie Torres who represents the Bronx said Saturday there's no full breakdown available yet but he expects the MTA to receive more than $10 billion in the bill.
The bill was passed by the Senate in August. But it has been mired in debate in Congress as progressive Democrats sought to leverage their votes in exchange for pushing the separate $1.9 trillion Build Back Better bill, which proposes climate and social policy reforms, according to the New York Times: “Progressive Democrats had revolted anew on Friday, with many insisting that they could not back the measure without a vote on the social welfare bill.”
One of the progressive Democrats, U.S. Representative Jamaal Bowman of the Bronx and Westchester County, issued a statement Saturday on his vote against the infrastructure bill because it was decoupled from the Build Back Better bill.
"We were asked to vote only on physical infrastructure at the last hour and to delay the needs and ignore the suffering of our constituents with the weakest assurance that the original agreement would be kept. The agreement was broken," Bowman said. "Therefore, I voted no on a physical infrastructure bill that came without the Build Back Better Act.
Amid Friday’s debate, the House voted to bring the Build Back Better bill to a vote the week of November 15th, Biden said in his statement, and added, “I look forward to signing both of these bills into law.”