With the passage in the House of Representatives of the Moving Forward Act – a $1.5 trillion plan to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure – House Democrats have done something other than just offer platitudes about the need to repair our roads and bridges. They brought a bill to the floor and voted.
The plan includes $319 billion for highways and of course only cursory mention of a pay-for or an increase in gas taxes. But then again, as a COVID-19 stimulus, that appears to be a moot point at this stage in U.S. history. While there is much to like in the bill, I fear it tries to do too much in one fell swoop, addressing issues such as climate, clean energy, electric vehicles, transit and rail – all important issues, but better addressed separately.
The majority of industry associations came out in favor of the effort, although several, and the Chamber of Commerce, were somewhat less enthusiastic.
I don’t see how this plan can be reconciled with the Senate’s bill, America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act of 2019. The U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works passed the legislation unanimously, 21-0, and it is much more narrowly focused. The bill authorizes $287 billion over five years for roads and bridges: not nearly enough, by the way.
Compounding the difficulties of reconciliation, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) seems to have no interest whatsoever in bringing the legislation to the floor for a vote.
The Trump administration also appears to be the Grim Reaper for this particular flavor of infrastructure spending, suggesting a veto is waiting for anything like the House bill.
Meanwhile the September expiration of the FAST Act is coming, well, fast. Will there be any further movement on this before Election Day? That is doubtful. Look for a temporary extension and for the issue to be decided post-election.
It is sickening to see the nation’s crumbling infrastructure held hostage to the bloodsport of party politics. But that’s where it stands right now.
Mark S. Kuhar, editor