On Tuesday, the United States Senate passed a USD $1 trillion infrastructure bill, sending it to the House of Representatives for further debate. While the details and amount of money are subject to change, it is likely that some kind of bill to expand and rebuild the country’s infrastructure will be passed and signed in the coming months. And while most of the bill’s funding will focus on fixing America’s roads, bridges, and other transportation infrastructure, tech is far from being ignored.
Infrastructure spending has long been a goal of many Presidential administrations. And while many bills fall victim to partisan battles, the general idea of infrastructure spending enjoys bipartisan support. Of course, certain tenets of the infrastructure bill will still face fierce debate, particularly the portions that pertain to technology. However, because there is bipartisan agreement that America’s infrastructure needs updates, a bill is likely to pass. And while the numbers may change, the country is still set to spend billions to update, modernize, and regulate technology infrastructure.
Crypto Tax Changes
One of the most important (and controversial) tenets of the bill is creating tax-reporting mandates for cryptocurrency brokers. In practice, this would make reporting cryptocurrency income similar to traditional stock income, where brokers already report their clients’ sales to the IRS. Congressional accountants estimate that this update to crypto tax laws would raise USD $28 billion over ten years . And while this money doesn’t cover the entire cost of the bill, it would pay for the USD $25 billion to repair America’s structurally deficient bridges.
The reason for its controversy is cryptocurrency’s unique nature. Opponents say that the language of the bill regarding cryptocurrency is too broad, leading to software developers and crypto miners facing tax requirements. Additionally, some fully oppose taxes on cryptocurrencies, due to their purposefully decentralized nature. However, supporters of this tax claim that cryptocurrencies are like any other property, and therefore should be subject to capital-gains taxes. Supporters want cryptocurrency gains to be taxed the same as other properties, such as gold and stocks. So while cryptocurrency will still be largely decentralized and international, it will likely become subject to national taxes in the future.
Another large portion of the infrastructure bill is dedicated to broadband affordability. While those living in urban or suburban communities typically have easy access to the Internet, those living in rural communities aren’t afforded that same accessibility. Many rural areas don’t have consistent access to the Internet, and if they do, the costs can be immense. To combat this Internet inequality, the infrastructure bill offers billions in grants to low-income households. The new program offers monthly USD $30 subsidies toward purchasing high-speed Internet .
As millions of Americans have spent the past year working and studying from home, reliable Internet access has become a necessity, especially for low-income college students. The new bill also provides USD $1 billion for colleges and universities to provide additional direct grants to students in need. Overall, expanding broadband access will help ensure more Americans have affordable access to the Internet. After all, access to online services has proven itself to almost be a necessity in nearly every facet of life.
Electric Vehicle Expansion
One of the largest physical infrastructure plans included in the bill is a USD $7.5 billion investment in electric vehicle (EV) charging stations . While EVs have been available to Americans for years, adoption has been slow, partially due to the lack of EV chargers available across the country. This investment hopes to encourage Americans to switch to more environmentally-friendly EVs, as opposed to traditional gasoline-powered cars. In addition to EV charging stations, the bill also sets aside USD $7.5 billion to help cities adopt zero-emission public transportation vehicles.
The bill also offers USD $1.9 billion for cybersecurity updates. USD $1 billion of that fund is slated to be given as grants to state and local governments . Following increased numbers of cyberattacks and ransomware incidents, this money will be useful for updating aging technology. State and local governments often rely on older tech, making it easier for cybercriminals to stage a successful attack.
In addition, these grants will greatly help local governments, who are particularly susceptible to ransomware attacks . Local governments often oversee critical infrastructure, such as water, sewage, schools, and airports. Because all of these are necessities for the community, cybercriminals often target them, knowing that local governments will be desperate enough to pay the ransom. Thankfully, the infrastructure bill’s investment in modernizing cybersecurity for local governments can help protect these communities from the rising threat of cybercrime.
Why Tech is Infrastructure
While the infrastructure bill receives broad support from Americans, some have objected to the bill’s spending outside of traditional infrastructure. After all, “infrastructure” has always meant roads and bridges, rather than tech. But because technology is becoming so present in our lives, it’s important to ensure our tech consistently works. Think about it: If your employer’s Internet went out on a workday, it would be more than an inconvenience. It would likely cause nearly everyone’s work to pause. Simply put, we are incredibly reliant on technology, so it makes sense to ensure that technology works properly and consistently.
When people hear the word “infrastructure,” many think of physical infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, pipes and buildings. Naturally, most of the infrastructure bill is slated to fund these physical infrastructure projects. However, with the Internet truly becoming a necessity in recent years, technology needs to be included in infrastructure as well. To a certain extent, it’s just as important as water or sewage. When our country’s technology works as intended, it can lead to incredible efficiency and convenience. And even in a pandemic, technology allowed us to continue to get work done, ensuring that businesses and governments could continue to serve their communities. But when technology doesn’t work, it can lead to chaos and frustration. Just a loss of Internet can cause entire businesses to temporarily shut down. So because technology and the Internet are so vital to individuals, businesses, and governments, it simply makes sense to consider technology as infrastructure. After all, the Internet isn’t just a luxury anymore; it’s a vital necessity for all.
 Gordon, Marcy. “EXPLAINER: How Cryptocurrency Fits into Infrastructure Bill.” AP NEWS. August 10, 2021. https://apnews.com/article/technology-joe-biden-business-bills-cryptocurrency-92628a41124230448f65fdeb89ffad7d.
 Gravely, Alexis. “Infrastructure Bill Expands Broadband Affordability for Students.” Infrastructure Bill Expands Broadband Affordability for Students. August 10, 2021. https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2021/08/10/infrastructure-bill-expands-broadband-affordability-students.
 Szymkowski, Sean. “Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill Passes US Senate with Billions for EV Charging Network.” Roadshow. August 10, 2021. https://www.cnet.com/roadshow/news/biden-bipartisan-infrastructure-bill-ev-charging-network-senate/.
 Miller, Maggie. “Senate Includes over $1.9 Billion for Cybersecurity in Infrastructure Bill.” TheHill. August 10, 2021. https://thehill.com/policy/cybersecurity/567204-over-1-billion-in-cybersecurity-funds-included-in-senate-passed.
 Garcia, Michael. “The Underbelly of Ransomware Attacks: Local Governments.” Council on Foreign Relations. May 10, 2021. https://www.cfr.org/blog/underbelly-ransomware-attacks-local-governments.