The House passed a $715 billion proposal to fund transportation and water projects that’s meant to shape parts of a broader infrastructure package that will eventually emerge, according to The Hill.
Lawmakers passed the “Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation (INVEST) in America Act” (H.R. 3684) largely along party lines in a 221-201 vote with just two Republicans voting for the package, although the legislation includes funding for 403 projects requested by House GOP lawmakers, out of a combined 1,473 projects between the two parties.
The House also passed key water infrastructure investment bills, H.R. 3291, the Assistance, Quality, and Affordability (AQUA) Act, and H.R. 1915, the Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act.
Democrats hailed it as a monumental shift toward more sustainable infrastructure projects, with Republicans warning of lost jobs and a skyrocketing federal debt.
The bill “not only builds the infrastructure of America, but helps to rebuild the middle class,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). “It does so in a transformative way.”
“We were No. 1; we’re now No. 13, and falling fast,” added House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), noting that China invests 6% of its gross domestic product in infrastructure, versus one-half of 1% in the United States. “We cannot afford to be absent from this debate anymore,” he said.
The measures would reauthorize surface transportation programs that are set to expire on Sept. 30, as well as invest in electric vehicles, strengthen drinking water standards and make utilities more durable against the impact of climate change.
As the Senate and White House grapple over the particulars of their bipartisan agreement – a plan that has not yet been drafted into legislation – House Democrats are battling to ensure that some of their priorities find their way into whatever final product emerges from the talks.
“With passage of these bills, Congress is taking a positive step forward towards demonstrating a robust federal commitment to our nation’s surface transportation network, and water and wastewater infrastructure. Public works professionals across our great nation are committed to operating, maintaining, and protecting our critical infrastructure in communities of all sizes, serving all people, every single day,” said American Public Works Association President Mary Joyce Ivers.
The National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (NSSGA) President and CEO Michael Johnson issued the following statement:
“The continued movement forward on infrastructure is encouraging, with the passage of the INVEST in America Act in the House. Sound investment in infrastructure policy is critical for both job creation and economic growth, and we are glad to be one step closer to our goal. However, we do understand there is considerable work remaining before the current one-year extension of the FAST Act expires on September 30.
“We greatly appreciate the efforts of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee (T&I) Chairman DeFazio (D-Ore.) and Ranking Member Graves (R-Mo.) and their staffs for their work on this bill. NSSGA is supportive of several policies, including the historic funding levels of $547 billion in surface transportation project funding over five years, which includes $343 billion for road, bridge and highway projects as well as $32 billion in dedicated funds for much-needed bridge repair and reconstruction. We welcome the increase in funding for the Highway Safety Improvement Programs and we also support the inclusion of funds that will help state Departments of Transportation recover from revenue shortfalls suffered during the pandemic. NSSGA also applauds Rep. Stanton (D-Ariz.) and Rep. Balderson (R-Ohio) for their work to include the ROCKS Act into the underlying bill. These additions are all critical for the aggregates industry.
“NSSGA urges continued progress in a bipartisan manner so a robust multi-year, surface transportation reauthorization bill can be passed. We look forward to working with all stakeholders who share in the same goal of advancing sound and effective infrastructure policies.”