Late last Friday night, the House passed a long-awaited $1 trillion infrastructure bill with bipartisan support, handing President Joe Biden a major legislative victory. This “hard infrastructure” bill will direct new spending toward America’s bridges, roads and public transit — as well as support the development of better broadband in rural areas and safer drinking water in tribal communities. If you’re like my husband, you’re already eyeing a few local overpasses you’re hoping to see upgraded.

But how do votes in Congress get translated into new pipes and paint? Ana Maria Dimand, a professor of public policy and administration at Boise State University, explains the government processes that control how federal money is spent — and how the government increasingly uses those processes to not only build things but to achieve social policy objectives.

To better help you understand the impact of the bill, Senior Environment and Energy Editor Jennifer Weeks dug into our archives and recommends five stories about how it targets bridges, bike lanes, electric car charging infrastructure and more.

Also today:

Emily Costello

Managing Editor

The $1 trillion bill was a heavy lift for Speaker Nancy Pelosi (center). Next up: the budget reconciliation bill known as Build Back Better. Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Congress passes $1T infrastructure bill – but how does the government go about spending that much money?

Ana Maria Dimand, Boise State University

The government uses a process called public procurement. A professor of public policy explains how the process works and how it is increasingly used to achieve social goals.


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