Industry associations applaud U.S. House passage of INVEST in America Act - UPDATED

Support for the bill fell, in large part, across party lines, and is seen as a harbinger of negotiations as the bill heads to the Senate

July 01, 2021 / 3 minute read
The U.S. House of Representatives today passed the INVEST In America Act by a vote of 221-201. The five-year, $715 billion bill covering transportation and drinking water is seen as even more aggressive toward climate change than even the bipartisan bill introduced in the Senate and lauded by President Biden.

UPDATED July 2, 2021:

The U.S. House of Representatives today passed the INVEST In America Act by a vote of 221-201. The five-year, $715 billion bill covering transportation and drinking water is seen as even more aggressive toward climate change than even the bipartisan bill introduced in the Senate and lauded by President Biden.

The bill would provide $343 billion to roads, bridges, and transportation safety; $109 for transit, making for a 140% increase in spending in this area; and $168 billion for drinking water and waste water.

Associations across the surface transportation industry quickly embraced the bill's passage. Selected statements to that affect are as follows:

American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO):

AASHTO congratulates the House of Representatives on the passage of the five-year INVEST in America Act, which is a major step toward reauthorization of the federal surface transportation program,” said Jim Tymon, AASHTO executive director. “With infrastructure investment being the top national priority, AASHTO continues to call for a bipartisan bill that strengthens and builds upon formula-based funding to states, while maintaining the flexibility necessary to allow states to deliver national transportation priorities including equity; resiliency; carbon reduction; safety for all roadway users; improving project delivery; and, maintaining and improving their transportation assets. We also believe a robust five-year surface transportation reauthorization must be the centerpiece of any enacted infrastructure package—and look forward to assisting Congress and the Biden Administration to get across the finish line by September 30.

American Public Works Association (APWA):

Today, the 30,000 members of the American Public Works Association (APWA) are commending the U.S. House of Representatives passage of the Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation (INVEST) in America Act (H.R. 3684), and 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.

“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 APWA President Mary Joyce Ivers.

APWA supports efforts by Congress to reauthorize critical surface transportation programs before they are set to expire on September 30, 2021, as well as the necessary funding and financing terms to help public works agencies deliver clean water and continue doing their part to protect public health. For this Congress, APWA is advocating specific public policy priorities for Surface Transportation Reauthorization, Water Resiliency, and Emergency Management.

Specifically for surface transportation, APWA calls upon Congress and President Biden to enact a 6-year bill that will:

  • Increase and index the federal motor fuel tax, and provide a more stable, long-term revenue source for our national and regional multi-modal transportation systems;
  • Eliminate unnecessary, duplicative, and burdensome requirements that delay the delivery of critical transportation improvements; and
  • Increase the emphasis on safety for all transportation system users.

For Water Resiliency, APWA’s public policy priorities are:

  • Updates to water and wastewater regulations;
  • Protect people, property, and the environment;
  • Preserve and enhance water infrastructure;
  • A science-based approach to regulations;
  • Streamline local, state, and federal governance structures.

“As first responders, the men and women of public works are often the first to respond and the last to leave when a threatening situation arises. In addition to preparing for, responding to, and recovering from emergencies and disasters, public works is a key partner in safeguarding public health,” said APWA CEO Scott D. Grayson, CAE. “Consistent, substantial and longterm investments by the federal government will go a long way in supporting our communities depending each day on essential, quality of life services and infrastructure so integral to our nation’s economic strength and the health of our citizenry.”

APWA calls for a bipartisan, regular order legislative process as the most effective manner for Congress to pass critical infrastructure legislation that will help public works entities to continue their essential work in protecting public health and safety. Today’s actions by the House, and recent bipartisan discussions between President Biden and Members of Congress are vitally important. APWA stands ready to work with all Members of Congress and the Biden Administration to best serve the country by passing bipartisan infrastructure legislation. 

ITS America:

“The INVEST in America Act’s technology investments will power our country toward a safer, greener, smarter, and more equitable future.

“The bill’s infrastructure technology investments will allow the United States to achieve a 21st century transportation system that helps protect all road users. It improves safety by making Vision Zero and vehicle-to-pedestrian technologies eligible for funding as pedestrian and cycling deaths continue to increase.

“It includes other significant wins for our transportation system, for which ITS America and our members have advocated, including making cybersecurity eligible under highway and transit programs and establishing Mobility on Demand under transit programs, which will provide more access to mobility options for all Americans, in urban and rural communities.

“It also provides billions of dollars for research, development, and deployment of technologies that will lead to a greener transportation system, including electrifying our transportation infrastructure and public transit fleet, and significantly expands technology to new congestion relief and climate programs.

“ITS America has also long advocated for two auto safety measures not covered in this bill, both of which are critical to saving lives on our roadways: establishing a federal regulatory framework for autonomous vehicles and ensuring the 5.9 GHz spectrum is preserved for transportation safety use, which is critical for the safe deployment of autonomous vehicles as well as the safety and efficiency of the transportation system. We stand ready to work with Congress on these long overdue measures.

“We appreciate the House’s investments in infrastructure technology and look forward to working with the Senate to complete its process.”

Transportation Construction Coalition:

“The 33 national associations and labor unions of the Transportation Construction Coalition (TCC) view House passage of the INVEST in America Act as another positive step toward fulfilling infrastructure goals championed by both parties.  The historic highway, public transit and water infrastructure investment levels meet the moment. 
 
“The American people strongly support making infrastructure improvements to help accelerate U.S. economic recovery post-pandemic.
 
“The TCC urges House, Senate and Biden administration leaders to ensure enactment of a surface transportation law, and broader infrastructure package, before the September 30 funding deadline.” 

U.S. PIRG:

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a legislative package on Thursday that would improve water infrastructure, protect drinking water, and repair and expand our transportation system.  The package combined several bills, including the Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act of 2021 and the AQUA Act, under the umbrella of the INVEST in America Act.  

The INVEST in America Act would devote a record $547 billion to public transit, walking and biking infrastructure, and wildlife crossings, while emphasizing a fix-it-first, climate-friendly approach to transportation. Additionally, the package authorizes a landmark $40 billion for clean water infrastructure (with 15 percent of that funding dedicated to natural infrastructure projects) and $45 billion to replace lead pipes nationwide. It also creates a grant program to protect drinking water in schools.  

Last November, Environment America and U.S. PIRG released Blueprint for America, an infrastructure plan to make our families and communities safer, healthier, and more resilient by focusing specifically on the areas of energy, transportation, water, solid waste, and natural infrastructure. In a letter spearheaded by Environment America and U.S. PIRG this past March, more than 360 local officials organized from 34 states to call on President Joe Biden and Congress to prioritize funding for infrastructure that will make our communities healthier and protect our environment. Environment America recently released polling that shows voters across the political spectrum strongly support the types of investments just passed by the House.

U.S. PIRG President Faye Park said: 

“No one wants dirty air, polluted water or unsafe roads. Adopting common-sense solutions to these problems is in the interest of all Americans and we applaud members of the House for coming together to do so today with the passage of the INVEST in America Act. This bill shows a healthier, safer future is possible and we look forward to continuing to work with Congress to address all our infrastructure needs.”

Environment America President Wendy Wendlandt said: 

“It’s 2021, but much of our infrastructure is stuck in the 1950s. The INVEST in America Act is the approach we need to tackle today’s problems, including the greatest challenge of our time: climate change. This bill’s investments in clean, electric and zero-carbon transportation options such as walking and biking are good news for people and the planet. Even animals such as Los Angeles’ famous cougars will get safer ways to cross roads thanks to investments in wildlife crossings!”

Additional experts from Environment America and U.S. PIRG issued the following statements on specific water and transportation provisions:

U.S. PIRG Environment Campaigns Director Matt Casale said: 

“The transportation status quo in the U.S. is inefficient and unsustainable. The INVEST in America Act breaks the mold and takes a new fix-it-first and more carbon-conscious approach to support a safer, cleaner and greener transportation network. If signed into law, this bill will drastically improve our options for getting around while making Americans healthier and tackling the climate crisis.”

Environment America Clean Water Program Director John Rumpler said: 

“This legislation takes vital steps to end the widespread contamination of our drinking water with lead. The bill not only authorizes $45 billion to pay for replacing lead pipes but also sets a 10-year deadline for water utilities to get the job done. In addition, the bill establishes new funding for schools to filter lead out of the water our kids drink every day. Kudos to Congress for moving boldly to get the lead out.”

Environment America Federal Legislative Advocate Sean Hoffmann said:  

“Now more than ever, Americans are reminded of the promise we made to ourselves when we adopted the Clean Water Act in 1972 -- that all our waterways would be safe for swimming. This House package marks a substantial step towards meeting that promise because it invests in stopping sewage overflows, which prevents runoff pollution from flowing into our rivers, lakes, and streams. Polls show that Americans across the nation and political spectrum want to see federal investments in clean water infrastructure, so this House package is long overdue.” 

Environment America Conservation America Campaign Advocate Alex Petersen said: 

“The Federal Highway Administration found the chance of getting hit by a car or truck is a major threat to the survival of more than 20 threatened and endangered species. The wildlife crossings funded by the INVEST in America Act would help ensure the long-term survival of these incredible species such as bighorn sheep and Canada lynx. We thank Congress for building out 21st century infrastructure with nature in mind.

“Whether to migrate, hunt, mate or seek out new territory, animals need to move freely to thrive. For too long, we built our infrastructure without regard to the movement of wildlife. That's why it’s great to see the INVEST in America Act make an unprecedented commitment toward reconnecting divided habitats with wildlife corridors. This will help ensure the long-term survival of incredible species such as Florida panthers and pronghorn antelope.”

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