- After weeks of negotiations, the Senate passed the $ 1.2 trillion infrastructure investment and jobs bill on Tuesday by a margin of 69-30, with 19 Republicans joining the Democrats for the bill. Mike Rounds, a Republican from South Dakota whose wife is undergoing cancer treatment, did not vote.
- The bill that includes $ 550 billion in new infrastructure spending Over the next five years represents the largest new federal investment in roads, bridges and highways in the country in decades.
- The bill is now awaiting a vote in the House of Representatives, whose members will not return from recess until September 20.
Legislative measures include $ 110 billion for road and bridge improvements and $ 66 billion for passenger and freight rail projects, as well as expanding broadband access and electric vehicle capacity across the country.
Groups like the American Society of Civil Engineers, which recently dealt with the urgent need for public construction investment in their Infrastructure certificate, commended the Senate for passing the law.
“With this bill, the federal government will restore its critical partnership with cities and states to modernize our country’s infrastructure, including transportation systems, drinking water lines, school facilities, broadband, ports, airports and more,” said Jean-Louis Briaud, ASCE President. said in a statement shared with Construction Dive.
Mike Bellaman, CEO of Associated Builders and Contractors, noted the bipartisan nature of the bill, praising some of its provisions and criticizing others.
“The common sense provisions of this bill will reduce unnecessary delays in federal construction projects and help address labor shortages in the construction industry,” Bellaman said in a statement told Construction Dive. “The important thing is that the bill is paid without increasing taxes on our country’s small construction companies that are destroying jobs.”
Earlier this year, Biden and the legislature in Congress considered increase taxes in support of new infrastructure finance and other programs, but the bill passed today will be paid without a corporate tax rate increase.
Still, Bellaman said the inclusion of provisions preferred by unions, including the expansion of prevailing wages, “Buy American” initiatives, and local recruitment requirements, could undermine the law’s success.
The way to the White House
Brian Turmail, vice president of public affairs and strategic initiatives for the Associated General Contractors of America, said the legislation will help create job creation.
“The new infrastructure measure boosts federal investment in a variety of infrastructure projects, which will help generate new construction demand and create new, high-paying career opportunities in the construction industry,” Turmail said in a statement shared with Construction Dive.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., made it clear ahead of Tuesday’s vote that the bipartisan bill is one of two big goals that the Democrats have set for themselves for this summer. The other is a $ 3.5 trillion budget decision to fund a wide range of welfare programs like paid vacation, childcare, pre-K, and green energy – something that Democrats believe they can achieve without a Republican vote could.
After the vote on the infrastructure, the Senate will focus on the budget decision and hold a “vote-a-rama” in which an unlimited number of amendments will be examined. Once the measure is passed, the Senate begins its break.
House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi, D-California, has hinted that the House of Representatives will not pass the Infrastructure Bill until the Senate also submits its budget.
Turmail expressed concerns about linking these other measures with the Infrastructure Act.
“Unfortunately, some members of the House of Representatives want to delay action against the bipartisan move until an independent, partisan spending bill is passed. The last thing Washington should do is hold a much-needed, bipartisan infrastructure bill hostage to partisan politics, ”he said.