The long-discussed infrastructure bill has finally passed Congress, prompting reactions and statement from construction industry associations and contractors. The bill cleared the House on a 228-206 vote. The bill will be paid for with $210 billion in unspent COVID-19 relief aid and $53 billion in unemployment insurance aid.
Below is a breakdown of the bill's contents as reported by the Associated Press and a roundup of statement and opinions as to what the passage of the $1.2 trillion package means for the industry.
- Roads & Bridges: The bill would provide $110 billion to repair the nation’s aging highways, bridges and roads.
- Public Transit: The $39 billion for public transit in the legislation would expand transportation systems, improve accessibility for people with disabilities and provide dollars to state and local governments to buy zero-emission and low-emission buses. The Transportation Department estimates that the current repair backlog is more than 24,000 buses, 5,000 rail cars, 200 stations and thousands of miles of track and power systems.
- Passenger & Freight Rail: To reduce Amtrak’s maintenance backlog, which has worsened since Superstorm Sandy nine years ago, the bill would provide $66 billion to improve the rail service’s Northeast Corridor (457 miles, 735 km), as well as other routes.
- Electric Vehicles:The bill would spend $7.5 billion for electric vehicle charging stations, which the administration says are critical to accelerating the use of electric vehicles to curb climate change. It would also provide $5 billion for the purchase of electric school buses and hybrids, reducing reliance on school buses that run on diesel fuel.
- Internet Access:The legislation’s $65 billion for broadband access would aim to improve internet services for rural areas, low-income families and tribal communities. Most of the money would be made available through grants to states.
- The Electric Grid:To protect against the power outages that have become more frequent in recent years, the bill would spend $65 billion to improve the reliability and resiliency of the power grid.
- Airports:The bill would spend $25 billion to improve runways, gates and taxiways at airports and to improve terminals. It would also improve aging air traffic control towers.
- Water & Wastewater: The legislation would spend $55 billion on water and wastewater infrastructure. It has $15 billion to replace lead pipes and $10 billion to address water contamination from polyfluoroalkyl substances.
Associated Builders & Contractors Statement
“Passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill creates an opportunity to effectively modernize our nation’s most critical infrastructure, and ABC and our members stand ready to do the important work to bring America’s infrastructure into the 21st century,” said Michael Bellaman, ABC president and CEO. “However, ABC remains wary of some of the bill’s exclusionary provisions and statements from the Biden administration that could restrict the eligibility of America’s workers to compete for and participate in these construction projects.
“In addition, while the House voted to move forward with consideration of their partisan, reckless tax and spending bill, which was cobbled together in the middle of the night, we urge those in Congress who have expressed valid concerns about the bill’s impact on the economy and ongoing inflation throughout the country to prevent any further votes on this bill and pursue an alternate legislative approach that supports commonsense proposals, benefits our economy and creates jobs throughout the country.”
Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) Statement
“The reason the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill passed in the House today is because a majority of Representatives understand that this measure will provide significant, tangible improvements to their lives of the constituents and the success of their local employers. That is because the bill provides the kind of funding needed to modernize the country’s aging and overburdened infrastructure. The legislation also maintains the policy of One Federal Decision, cutting the amount of time needed for federal reviews of infrastructure projects.
“Because of today’s vote, state and local officials will be able to invest in a more efficient supply chain network. They will also be able to improve roads and bridges to make them safer and more reliable. Metro areas will be able to better maintain and expand transit systems. And water authorities will be able to further safeguard the quality of local drinking water, among other improvements funded by this bill. The measure also provides needed investments to make infrastructure more resilient to extreme weather events.
“Once the President signs this bill into law, our members are ready to begin the hard, but necessary, work of rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure. They will also begin the work of building rewarding careers for a generation of new construction professionals because of this measure. Ultimately, these new infrastructure investments will provide a needed boost for the construction industry while making our economy more efficient.”
“At the same time, we urge members of the Senate and the Biden administration to reject the more partisan, and potentially damaging so-called social infrastructure bill. This measure will significantly expand the role of the federal government in many aspects of the economy. The last thing the economy needs now are the kind of self-inflicted wounds that are the hallmark of this social infrastructure measure.”
National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA) Statement
“This bill represents a once-in-a-generation investment in the country’s transportation networks, demonstrating America’s long-standing commitment to provide safe roads, airports, and transit for the traveling public,” said NAPA President and CEO Audrey Copeland. “We urge President Biden to quickly sign this bipartisan package into law, so we can build back better with increased jobs, enhanced safety, and improved roads.” “The hard-working women and men of the asphalt pavement industry applaud the inclusion of many elements NAPA advocated and supported,” added Jay Hansen, NAPA’s Executive Vice President for Advocacy. Among NAPA priorities included in the final bill are reauthorization of the Accelerated Implementation and Deployment of Pavement Technologies (AID-PT) program to advance innovation for constructing and maintaining long-lasting pavements, as well as increased federal contributions to safety contingency funds to protect the women and men working daily to keep Americans and the economy moving so they can return home safely. Also notable is an absence of pavement selection mandates, empowering road owners and engineers who know the projects best to design and build cost-effective pavements that serve their communities efficiently."
American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) Statement
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is the most significant measure in more than 50 years to meaningfully address the condition and performance of the U.S. transportation network.
“Members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have demonstrated not only the importance of federal transportation infrastructure leadership, but that policymakers can find common ground and govern on matters of national concern.
“We salute President Joe Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) for their leadership in getting the job done, along with other members of Congress who voted for final passage.
“In today’s political environment where distortions and broadsides masquerade as solutions, members of Congress have taken tangible action that will benefit every state and community across the nation.
“The transportation construction community now welcomes the opportunity to use these historic investments to deliver infrastructure outcomes that will improve the quality of life for all Americans.”