House Approves $1.5 Trillion Infrastructure Bill; Highways Would Get $319 Billion

The House of Representatives approved the Moving Forward Act, a $1.5 trillion plan to rebuild the nation’s crumbling infrastructure, pouring hundreds of billions of dollars into projects to fix roads and bridges, upgrade transit systems, expand interstate railways and dredge harbors, ports and channels.

The bill also authorizes more than $100 billion to expand internet access for rural and low-income communities and $25 billion to modernize the U.S. Postal Service’s infrastructure and operations, including a fleet of electric vehicles.

Lawmakers in the Democratic-controlled House approved the Moving Forward Act by a 233-188 vote, mostly along party lines. It now goes to the Republican-controlled Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has refused to advance a much narrower bill approved by a key committee nearly a year ago.

“Passage of this bold, forward-thinking infrastructure bill is proof that finally, there is a majority of us in Congress who won’t accept the status quo and instead are willing to fight for a new vision that invests in our communities, addresses the climate crisis, and creates better opportunities for all. And we get there by putting millions of people to work in jobs that cannot be exported, while harnessing American-made materials, ingenuity and innovation,” said DeFazio. “With the Moving Forward Act, we make it clear that our infrastructure does not have to be a product of the past, with crumbling roads and bridges, unreliable transit and rail networks, inequitable outcomes, and little regard to our changing climate and our changing economy. I challenge my Senate colleagues to join the House in thinking big and being bold on long-overdue investments not only in our infrastructure, but also in the communities and the people we all represent.”

As chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, DeFazio authored the Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation in America (INVEST in America) Act, a key component of the Moving Forward Act.

According to DeFazio, the Moving Forward Act will:

  • Deliver better roads and bridges faster with more than $300 billion of investment that prioritizes fixing what we already have, including tens of thousands of structurally deficient bridges.
  • Invest more than $100 billion in transit to put more zero-emission buses on the road, add new routes, and provide more reliable service, resulting in better transit options and fewer single-occupant cars clogging highways.
  • Modernize infrastructure to reduce gridlock and address bottlenecks, and makes roads smarter and safer for all users, including pedestrians and bicyclists.
  • Invest in programs, projects, and materials that emphasize resiliency while reducing carbon pollution from the transportation sector, including $1.4 billion in alternative fuel charging infrastructure.
  • Keep cargo moving by funding the essential dredging and upkeep of American harbors, ports, and channels.
  • Modernize our energy infrastructure for a clean energy future by investing more than $70 billion to transform our electric grid to accommodate more renewable energy, expand renewable energy, strengthen existing infrastructure, help develop an electric vehicle charging network, and support energy efficiency, weatherization and Smart Communities infrastructure.

The legislation also accounts for the economic downturn caused by the global pandemic and ensures states, cities, tribes, territories and transit agencies can administer programs, advance projects, and preserve jobs in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis.

National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (NSSGA) President and CEO Michael Johnson issued the following statement after passage of the bill.

“We are encouraged to see movement on the issue of infrastructure investment,” Johnson said. “This is a mammoth $1.5 trillion infrastructure package, which includes $319 billion in desperately needed funding for our highways and bridges. Rebuilding America’s infrastructure is a non-partisan concern and should be a bipartisan effort to work on a solution.

“As we continue to review the bill’s many provisions, we are pleased to see the inclusion of the ROCKS Act, which was a bipartisan effort by Congressman Greg Stanton (D-Ariz.) and Congressman Troy Balderson (R-Ohio). The ROCKS Act will ensure communities are able to access essential construction materials leading to improved environmental outcomes and better utilization of taxpayer dollars to build infrastructure. We would like to urge bipartisanship such as this throughout the process.

“NSSGA will continue to work with Congressional stakeholders on both sides of the aisle to advance sound and effective infrastructure policies. It is imperative that Congress take action on much needed infrastructure investment which is critical for job creation and economic growth,” Johnson concluded.

American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) President and CEO Dave Bauer issued the following statement:

“The nation’s economic recovery post-coronavirus would receive a huge long-term boost with the passage of a robust surface transportation investment bill. We commend the House for taking a positive step in that direction with its July 1 approval of the Moving Forward Act. The last thing states need during tumultuous times is more uncertainty about their share of federal highway and public transit funding. Short-term program extensions are not the solution and would only add insult to injury. We urge the Senate to move forward quickly on its version of a multi-year reauthorization bill. Final bicameral action is imperative before the current FAST Act law expires Sept. 30.”

Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) President Dennis Slater issued the following statement:

“Today’s passage of H.R. 2, the Moving Forward Act, is an important step in reauthorizing our federal surface transportation program. AEM has long supported the development of a comprehensive infrastructure package, one that makes much needed investments in our roads, highways, bridges, waterways and broadband networks,” said Slater. “We commend the U.S. House of Representatives for staying focused on the looming expiration of the 2015 FAST Act, and the opportunity before us to leverage infrastructure investment as a means to support economic recovery efforts during the coronavirus pandemic. H.R. 2 lays down a strong marker for much-needed, long-term investment in our nation’s infrastructure, and AEM will continue to support this process as it moves forward.

“AEM understands the time and effort that went into crafting this legislation, and urges both chambers to move forward from today’s vote in a bipartisan fashion,” Slater concluded. “We are committed to keeping up the momentum for long-term and sustainable infrastructure investment. The 2.8 million men and women of the equipment manufacturing industry are depending on lawmakers to get the job done.”

Associated Equipment Distributors (AED) was not as enthusiastic about the bill.

“The House infrastructure proposal is commendable in certain areas, including its funding levels, but it also contains many concerning provisions that would impose unnecessary mandates when Congress should be looking to reduce regulatory burdens and expedite project delivery,” said AED President and CEO Brian P. McGuire. “While there’s a great deal not to like both in substance about H.R. 2 and the excessively partisan process taken by House leadership, the House did its job and passed an infrastructure bill. The time is long overdue for the Senate to take similar action and approve legislation to provide long-term, robust infrastructure investments.”

The chief executive officer of the Associated General Contractors of America, Stephen E. Sandherr, also issued a cautionary statement:

“House Democratic leaders rightly understand the scope of the nation’s infrastructure challenges and the suggested funding levels in their infrastructure measure could lead to significant, and much-needed, improvements. However, virtually every meaningful infrastructure legislation that has been enacted in the past 65 years has enjoyed broad bipartisan, bicameral support. Unfortunately, today’s vote makes it clear that this measure does not have the same widespread support as its predecessors. One reason is that many of the measure’s provisions do more to accommodate the wishes of special interests than solve infrastructure needs. This could undermine the bill’s ability to boost employment and needed economic growth. The vote should be the start of a sincere and earnest process to craft a measure that will garner widespread support among both parties, in both houses. The end goal should be enacting a measure that will have the largest possible impact on improving the nation’s aging and overburdened infrastructure.”

The Trump Administration issued the following statement, and threatened a veto. 

“The Administration opposes House passage of H.R. 2, the Moving Forward Act. The Administration strongly supports improving the Nation’s infrastructure, but this bill is problematic for several reasons. It is heavily biased against rural America. It also appears to be entirely debt-financed. And it fails to tackle the issue of unnecessary permitting delays, which are one of the most significant impediments to improving our infrastructure. Further, instead of taking a balanced approach that would benefit more Americans, H.R. 2 is full of wasteful “Green New Deal” initiatives that would impede economic growth and impose unnecessary mandates, hindering innovation and driving up costs for the American people.”

Related posts