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Biden sets priorities, creates task force for infrastructure rollout

Landrieu tapped to oversee and coordinate investments at federal, state and local levels

Biden signing infrastructure bill on Monday. (Image: CSPAN)

Just before signing into law the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) on Monday, President Joe Biden laid out six priorities that a new infrastructure task force will use to guide the rollout of the historic funding package.

According to an executive order signed by Biden, those priorities include:

  • Invest public dollars efficiently, avoid waste and focus on measurable outcomes.
  • Buy American and increase the competitiveness of the U.S. economy, including through implementing the act’s made-in-America requirements and bolstering domestic manufacturing and manufacturing supply chains.
  • Create high-paying job opportunities for millions of Americans by focusing on high labor standards for those jobs, including prevailing wages and the free and fair chance to join a union.
  • Invest public dollars equitably, including through the Justice40 Initiative, a governmentwide effort toward a goal that 40% of the overall benefits from federal investments in climate and clean energy flow to disadvantaged communities.
  • Build resilient infrastructure that can withstand the impacts of climate change and that helps combat the climate crisis.
  • Effectively coordinate with state, local, tribal and territorial governments in implementing the investments.

The new Infrastructure Implementation Task Force established by the executive order is co-chaired by National Economic Council Director Brian Deese and former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who was named White House infrastructure implementation coordinator on Sunday.

“This Task Force will be committed to break down barriers and drive implementation of infrastructure investments across all levels of government to realize the President’s vision of rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure and positioning the U.S. to compete and win in the 21st century,” the White House stated.

Cabinet members on the task force include:

  • Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg.
  • Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland.
  • Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm.
  • Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo.
  • Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.
  • Secretary of Labor Martin Walsh.
  • Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan.

Commenting on the creation of an infrastructure czar to oversee and coordinate investments at the federal, state and local level, Mort Downey, a former deputy secretary at the Department of Transportation, said it was “very important, because that person can step in and make sure that different parts of the federal government work together and not focus on their own activities.”

“Mitch comes from a port city and has a strong transportation background. I’m sure he’ll do a great job,” Downey added during a media briefing on Monday hosted by the Coalition for America’s Gateways and Trade Corridors.

In addition to the White House infrastructure task force, CAGTC Vice Chairman Paul Anderson noted that the Office of Multimodal Freight Infrastructure and Policy — established by the IIJA — creates a new assistant secretary-level position in the Transportation Department dedicated to freight.

“I would urge that in the spirit of the bipartisanship that passed this bill that they get through an assistant secretary nominee as quickly as possible and get going on getting these funds delivered to the recipients so that we can then turn around and make generational improvements,” said Anderson, who is also president and CEO of Port Tampa Bay.

Click for more FreightWaves articles by John Gallagher.

John Gallagher

Based in Washington, D.C., John specializes in regulation and legislation affecting all sectors of freight transportation. He has covered rail, trucking and maritime issues since 1993 for a variety of publications based in the U.S. and the U.K. John began business reporting in 1993 at Broadcasting & Cable Magazine. He graduated from Florida State University majoring in English and business.