Last week, the United States House of Representatives approved a climate-friendly $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan that would allocate billions of dollars to addressing ever-increasing issues with roads and bridges, transit systems, railways, harbors, ports and channels.
In addition to project funding for all of the above, the Moving Forward Act also sets aside more than $100 billion to install broadband internet in rural areas and low-income communities and $25 billion for the U.S. Postal Service to make infrastructure improvements and more. It also addresses funding for storm water, drinking water, and energy grid projects.
While the Democratic-controlled House voted 233-188 to approve the bill, it now goes to the Republican-controlled Senate, which has a different infrastructure bill of its own. President Trump has also made it known that he would veto the House bill if it ever reached his desk because it is “heavily biased against rural America” and “fails to tackle the issue of unnecessary permitting delays” for infrastructure projects.
The biggest portion of the $1.5 trillion plan goes to roads, bridges and railways in the form of a $494 billion, 5-year surface transportation proposal. The plan invests heavily in public transit and rail, with a focus on cutting carbon pollution.
Additionally, $130 billion would go to school infrastructure projects, especially schools in high-poverty areas. The House bill allocates at least $100 billion to build and make updates to 1.8 million affordable housing units across the U.S.
While the bill is not likely to be approved in the Senate, the two parties do agree on the core of the bill—funding for surface transportation updates will make up the largest portion of funding in any infrastructure legislation that is eventually passed (don’t hold your breath).
Here’s what two industry organizations had to say about the bill:
Associated Builders and Contractors Vice President of Legislative & Political Affairs Kristen Swearingen: “While ABC agrees with the need for a substantial transportation package, this includes harmful policies that will be detrimental to our nation’s ability to effectively and efficiently rebuild and modernize its . By requiring anti-competitive provisions, such as government-mandated project labor agreements and inflationary Davis-Bacon prevailing wage requirements, this will dissuade contractors from bidding on projects, drive up overall costs and exclude the overwhelming majority of America’s construction industry professionals who choose not to join a union. These measures would also have a devastating impact on small construction businesses that are seeking to recover from the ongoing health and economic crisis caused by COVID-19. The path forward on repairing our nation’s should be rooted in fair and open competition and equal opportunity, not policies that favor big labor and costly, ineffective federal mandates.”
Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) President Dennis Slater: “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 package, one that makes much needed investments in our roads, highways, bridges, waterways, and broadband networks,” said Dennis Slater, president of AEM. “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 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 , and AEM will continue 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. We are committed to keeping up the momentum for long-term and sustainable investment. The 2.8 million men and women of the equipment manufacturing industry are depending on lawmakers to get the job done.”