President Donald Trump signed a package containing $19.1 billion in disaster relief funding June 6, signaling the first bipartisan commitment toward repairing the country’s aging and damaged infrastructure.
The bill, which stalled in Congress for several months, directs more than half its funds toward infrastructure and related work to help areas that have recently been affected by natural disasters.
“I think we could consider that the first big, major investment in building infrastructure of our country,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during a June 5 press briefing, adding that the bill includes “a very large commitment to [infrastructure], including in Puerto Rico.”
Trump and Congress have indicated that infrastructure would likely be a topic that would gather bipartisan support, though a dedicated infrastructure bill has yet to be fully realized.
Trump had met with Democratic leadership April 30 regarding a proposed infrastructure bill, where the two sides reached a verbal agreement to allocate $2 trillion to help improve the nation’s roads and bridges.
When Trump met with lawmakers May 22 to discuss the deal further, though, the meeting lasted just a few minutes after Trump demanded ongoing investigations into his administration close before he would consider signing an infrastructure bill.
The latest bill allocates funds to areas across the country that were affected by natural disasters this year and last, as well as to Puerto Rico, which is still rebuilding after Hurricane Maria tore through the island in 2017. Notable infrastructure and construction-related funding in the bill includes:
- $1.65 billion to the Federal Highway Administration to reimburse states and territories for damage to roads and bridges in the National Highway System.
- $2.431 billion to community development block grants for disaster recovery to help communities rebuild housing, businesses and public infrastructure in the most impacted and distressed areas affected by major natural disasters. When combined additional outside funding, there will be a total of $3.89 billion in resources in this area for 2018 and 2019 disasters, of which more than $1 billion is available for resiliency and mitigation activities. Of the total, $431 million is for unmet needs from 2017 disasters, including $331 million for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
- Nearly $3 billion to the Army Corps of Engineers for repairs and construction of projects that would protect areas from flooding and hurricanes.
- $1 billion to the Air Force for planning and design for the relocation of the F-22 mission, beddown of F-35s and construction of facilities to rebuild its base.
- $534 million for financial and technical assistance to states and local sponsors to protect and restore watersheds.
- $600 million for flood mitigation, disaster relief, long-term recovery and restoration of infrastructure in areas affected by major disasters in 2018 and 2019.
- $25 million to NOAA ORF for improvements to operational and research weather supercomputing infrastructure and satellite ground services in support of the National Weather Service’s forecasting and prediction of hurricanes, floods and wildfires.
- $381 million to the Marine Corps and $670 million to the Air Force to address the effects of hurricanes and flooding in 2019. (This funding is prohibited from being used for any other purpose than disaster relief. The House notes that this blocks funding from being transferred for border wall construction.)
- Nearly $526 million to the Coast Guard to rebuild, repair or replace its infrastructure that was damaged during storms and rebuild facilities near water that were damaged or destroyed.
- $128 million to the National Park Service for repair of assets in national parks, with specific funding for historic preservation.
- $600 million to the Navy and Marine Corps for planning and design for construction projects related to Hurricanes Florence and Michael on Marine Corps Installations in North Carolina (New River, Cherry Point and Lejeune).
- $42.4 million for the National Guard to rebuild its Army Readiness Center and Operations facility.
Visit here for a comprehensive list of funding efforts.