Associations Praise, Raise Concerns on Biden Infrastructure Proposal

The Biden administration’s announcement of a major infrastructure proposal – The American Jobs Plan – brought comments, both positive and negative, from industry associations.

“Significant infrastructure investment is not only well overdue and desperately needed, but is also absolutely necessary to compete effectively in the world economy,” said National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (NSSGA) President and CEO Michael Johnson. “We are encouraged that the administration has taken this first step in the process to get an infrastructure package done this year. However, there remains much work to do to solve the challenges of our nation’s aging infrastructure. Our entire surface transportation system is overutilized and underfunded. NSSGA will continue to fight to make sure that any infrastructure package rightly prioritizes surface transportation and provides significant long-term investment, including a fix to the Highway Trust Fund.

“We all know that investment in infrastructure aids our country’s long-term economic health. In the aggregates industry alone every dollar of wages earned providing the construction materials necessary to build resilient infrastructure generates an additional $4 of wages in other industries. From urban areas to rural towns, infrastructure development will boost local economies,” Johnson added.

“There are no Republican or Democratic roads or bridges. The need for infrastructure investment is an issue that spans the partisan divide. Now is the time for members of Congress to come together and pass a bipartisan solution to the problem of decaying American infrastructure. NSSGA looks forward to working with anyone who shares that goal, whether in the administration or on either side of the aisle in Congress, to take advantage of this opportunity for meaningful infrastructure investment that will improve the quality of life of every American, create good jobs, bolster our economy and strengthen the United States position as a global leader,” Johnson concluded.

Portland Cement Association (PCA) President and CEO Mike Ireland said that PCA has continually advocated for passage of a long-term bipartisan infrastructure package and is encouraged that President Biden’s American Jobs Plan will provide the significant investment needed to modernize our nation’s highways, roads, and bridges to meet our country’s growing transportation needs. 

“This robust plan has never been more critical, with many Americans still in need of jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Ireland said. “President Biden’s efforts to increase research investments and tax incentives for emerging technologies such as carbon capture, utilization and storage is in line with our industry’s continual efforts to drive down the carbon intensity of our operations. Additionally, we support President Biden’s proposal prioritizing resilient infrastructure and recognition of sustainable building materials, including portland-limestone cement.

“While questions remain on how such an ambitious proposal should be paid for, we are hopeful Congress and the Biden administration will work together to identify a bipartisan path towards funding,” Ireland stated. “Today’s rollout of the American Jobs Plan is a positive first step and PCA is committed to working with both parties to produce a bipartisan package this year.”

“It is only fitting President Joe Biden announces his transportation investment plan in Pittsburgh, the city of bridges,” said American Road & Transportation Builders President and CEO Dave Bauer. “More than 45,000 U.S. bridges are in poor condition, according to the federal government. Such a data point underscores the scope of very real national infrastructure challenges.

“The president’s plan will accelerate a long overdue conversation about how to modernize our roads, bridges, public transit and other infrastructure systems. Members of Congress from both parties will rightly have their own policy thoughts. The most important thing is not whose plan passes Congress, but that at the end of the process the American people have increased mobility and the competitiveness of the U.S. economy is strengthened,” Bauer said.

Associated Equipment Distributors’ (AED) President and CEO Brian P. McGuire issued the following statement following the White House releasing its framework for an infrastructure package.

“AED commends President Biden for proposing a bold plan to rebuild the nation’s physical infrastructure, including investments in roads, bridges, highways, broadband, ports, water systems and other projects. America’s critical infrastructure is deficient and deteriorating after many years of underfunding. The time is long overdue for the federal government to provide the investments needed to restore the nation’s infrastructure to the envy of the world. There is no better way to put the United States on the path to long-term economic growth and job creation than investments in transportation, water, telecommunications and energy infrastructure.

“The legislative process in Congress must proceed expeditiously and in a bipartisan manner,” McGuire said. “AED looks forward to working with the Biden-Harris administration and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle to enact much-needed infrastructure investments and to identify responsible ways to pay for the proposal without sacrificing America’s productivity and international competitiveness.”

Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) President Dennis Slater issued the following statement to applaud President Biden’s plan.

“AEM has long championed a transformational investment in our nation’s infrastructure that grows our businesses, creates more family-sustaining jobs, improves our quality of life, and protects our environment for the generations to follow,” said Slater. “President Biden’s plan reflects many of the priorities outlined in AEM’s ‘The U.S. Infrastructure Report’ framework, including modernizing aging infrastructure assets to guarantee our global economic competitiveness, expanding broadband connectivity, creating new sector partnerships, boosting work-based learning programs, and ensuring that state and local governments have the fiscal resources they need. Agreeing on a long-term and sustainable funding mechanism that ensures the long-term competitiveness of the U.S. economy will require compromise, and we are committed to engaging constructively with all stakeholders to reach consensus. Equipment manufacturers applaud President Biden for seizing this generational opportunity to rebuild our country and jumpstart the economy, and we look forward to working with his administration, as well as both parties in Congress, to swiftly advance and pass commonsense and bipartisan legislation under regular order. The time to act is now.” 

National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) focused its comments on home affordability.

“NAHB commends President Biden for proposing a much-needed transportation and infrastructure plan for our nation that notes the important role that housing contributes to building strong communities,” said NAHB Chairman Chuck Fowke. “With the nation facing a housing affordability crisis, the plan recognizes the urgent need to build more affordable housing and retrofit existing homes to increase energy efficiency.”

The International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association, the worldwide association for the owners and operators of toll facilities and the businesses that serve them, released the following statement on The American Jobs Plan:

“President Biden’s infrastructure package unveiled today has spurred another round of discussion in our country about the cost and benefits of investing in our nation’s roads, bridges, tunnels and highways. Today is the start of what will be a robust debate about the best path forward; but rest assured the cost of doing nothing and kicking the can further down the road is enormous.

“Investment in our nation’s infrastructure is an investment in America and our people. It boosts our economy and ensures global competitiveness while improving safety and quality of life for all Americans. President Biden’s proposal to spend $115 billion on repairing bridges, highways and roads, $20 billion on road safety and $85 billion to modernize transit systems is a welcome sign of the administration’s desire to strengthen our nation’s transportation infrastructure.”

Some associations, however, were focused more on the labor provisions in the proposal.

The chief executive officer of the Associated General Contractors of America, Stephen E. Sandherr, issued the following statement on related plans to raise taxes and impose new regulatory and labor requirements on employers:

“We greet the President’s new infrastructure proposal with mixed emotions,” he said. “On one hand, the President is right to focus on rebuilding a broad range of aging and overburdened infrastructure and modernizing buildings. These investments will create a significant number of new construction career opportunities that traditionally pay well above jobs in other industries. Unfortunately, the President seeks to saddle these new investments with a host of labor and regulatory measures that will hurt workers and offset many of the economic benefits of these new infrastructure investments.

Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) President and CEO Michael Bellaman concurred with Sandherr.

“Our nation is in strong bipartisan agreement that America’s crumbling roads, bridges, schools and water, energy and transportation systems are in desperate need of modernization in order to accelerate our strong economic comeback and keep our country competitive in a global economy,” he said. “ABC continues to advocate for any plan to modernize our nation’s infrastructure to include policies to reduce costly and ineffective regulations, ensure fair and open competition, address the construction industry’s skilled worker shortage, embrace new technology, and pursue value-adding, public-private partnerships that can help bring critical construction projects to market in a more economical and efficient manner. Unfortunately, much of the Biden plan ignores ABC’s infrastructure policy recommendations, while proposing tax increases on job-creating construction firms that are still recovering from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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