In mid-January, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill of 2009 was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill proposes $275 billion in economic recovery tax cuts and $550 billion in targeted investments. The focus of investments include energy; science and technology; roads, bridges, transit, and waterways; and education.
Specific investments outlined in the bill include the following:
- $32 billion to transform the nation’s energy transmission, distribution, and production systems;
- $16 billion to repair public housing and make key energy efficiency retrofits;
- $6 billion to weatherize modest-income homes.
- $10 billion for science facilities, research, and instrumentation;
- $6 billion to expand broadband internet access in rural and other underserved areas;
- $30 billion for highway construction;
- $31 billion to modernize federal and other public infrastructure with investments that lead to long-term energy cost savings;
- $19 billion for clean water, flood control, and environmental restoration investments;
- $10 billion for transit and rail;
- $41 billion to local school districts, including $14 billion for a new School Modernization and Repair Program;
- $79 billion in state fiscal relief to prevent cutbacks to key services, including $39 billion to local school districts and public colleges and universities distributed through existing state and federal formulas;
- $15.6 billion to increase the Pell grant by $500; and
- $6 billion for higher education modernization.
The bill proposes several ways to establish accountability for money distributed under the program. A special "recovery website" will be established to post how funds are spent, all announcements of contract and grant competitions and awards, and formula grant allocations. Public notification of funding must include a description of the investment funded, the purpose, the total cost, and why the activity should be funded with recovery dollars. Governors, mayors, or others making funding decisions must personally certify that the investment has been fully vetted and is an appropriate use of taxpayer dollars. This will also be placed on the recovery website. Additionally, a seven-member Recovery Act Accountability and Transparency Board will be created to review management of recovery dollars and provide early warning of problems.
Commenting on the House of Representatives economic recovery proposal, American Road & Transportation Builders Association President and CEO Pete Ruane said, "The economic recovery plan announced by the U.S. House of Representatives leadership would provide an important first installment on the capital investment needed to fulfill [President] Obama’s pledge to repair and upgrade the nation’s aging highway and bridge network, transit systems, and airports. … This package should be followed-up later this year with robust, multi-year authorizations of the federal airport and surface transportation programs that are innovative, forward looking, and aimed at increasing the nation’s economic competitiveness through strategic, long-term capital investments. … Without that action, the American jobs that will be saved and created through the economic recovery package will again be in jeopardy due to the precarious position of the federal Highway Trust Fund."
A detailed summary of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill of 2009, as well as the bill’s full text, is available online at http://appropriations.house.gov.