The Big Stall
In case you hadn't heard, President Barack Obama has a plan to create 3 to 4 million new jobs. The House passed an $819 billion economic stimulus plan two weeks ago, and Senate Republicans and Democrats have devised competing plans with price tags of $713 and $885 billion, respectively. All versions include at least $100 billion for infrastructure projects. Obama has called on Congress to build and pass a plan by Feb. 16, calling the delay "inexcusable and irresponsible."
On the Home Front
The American Institute of Architects sent 900 members to Washington last week to lobby Congress to include more infrastructure spending in a stimulus package, and not to limit spending to projects that are ready to start now. "There's going to be money in the package for infrastructure, and our message is, 'That's great, but when we build things, let's make sure we build them better.' Which means we have green buildings in there, better schools, and mass transit, and not just new roads," says AIA senior director of federal relations Andrew Goldberg. "This bill creates at least the opportunity to begin putting a down payment on what we need to fix the infrastructure." Read the AIA stimulus plan here.
While any stimulus bill will not name specific projects, city mayors across the country have been busy building a list of 18,750 projects with a combined price tag of $149 billion. The U.S. Conference of Mayors, which compiled the list, asked for shovel-ready projects.
All eyes were on the U.S. Treasury on Feb. 10, when it was scheduled to unveil plans for use of its share of the money in President Obama's economic stimulus package. The plan is expected to take a sharp focus on revitalizing the financial sector and helping U.S. banks.
Two new federal appointments will be of particular interest to architects: HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, a GSD-trained architect who most recently was New York City Commissioner of Housing Preservation and Development, and Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Nobel Prize?winning physicist and director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Check back next week for an update on the newly created White House Office of Urban Policy.