UPDATE: The House of Representatives has released the text of the Moving Forward Act that calls for $1.5 trillion in infrastructure investments across a number of U.S. economic sectors, such as transportation, energy, education, housing, and healthcare, among others.
That legislation now also includes within it the INVEST in America Act surface transportation reauthorization bill recently advanced by the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, as previously reported.
A 96-page summary of the Moving Forward Act was released by House members, which breaks down, sector-by-sector, various infrastructure investments. Among the key items are:
- $494 billion in surface transportation reauthorization funding.
- $130 billion via the Reopen and Rebuild America’s Schools Act, targeting “high-poverty” school infrastructure needs.
- $100 billion for “affordable housing infrastructure” to create or preserve 1.8 million homes.
- $30 billion to upgrade hospitals to increase capacity, help community health centers respond to COVID-19, and prepare for future public health emergencies.
- $25 billion in the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund and other programs to ensure access clean drinking water and to help remove dangerous contaminants from local water systems.
- $25 billion to modernize U.S. Post Office infrastructure and operations, including building up a “zero emissions” postal vehicle fleet plus buying modern mail processing equipment and other goods.
Immediate concern was drawn to the Moving Forward Act as a non-bipartisan attempt to force through legislation that rolls back what some see as years of bipartisan work on the subject of infrastructure funding.
“With historic unemployment, tremendous unmet infrastructure needs, and less than four months before the expiration of surface transportation programs, this is no time for another partisan approach to infrastructure,” noted Neil Bradley, executive vice president and chief policy officer for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in a statement.
AASHTO Executive Director Jim Tymon pointed out that the Surface Transportation Advanced through Reform, Technology, & Efficient Review or STARTER Act introduced by the House T&I committee’s Republican Minority on June 17 “focuses on formula funding programs, streamlining project delivery and ensuring state flexibility – all principles adopted by the AASHTO Board of Directors.”
We will continue to update this story as developments occur.
PREVIOUS REPORTAGE: After more than 24 hours of debate that included the consideration of 177 amendments, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure approved the Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation in America (INVEST in America) Act.
The committee says the INVEST in America Act—the key piece of the House Democrats’ infrastructure proposal—marks a significant departure from previous surface transportation reauthorization bills by putting an emphasis on tackling the massive maintenance needs and building smarter, safer infrastructure, all while putting the nation on a path toward zero emissions from the transportation sector—which is the number one source of carbon pollution in the U.S. The INVEST in America Act now moves to the House floor.
“For far too long, Congress has taken a pass on trying to solve the toughest problems plaguing our surface transportation system, allowing it to limp along and fall farther and farther behind the rest of the world. That all changes with the INVEST in America Act, transformational legislation that moves our country into a new era of smarter, safer, more resilient infrastructure that fits our changing economy and society,” Committee Chair Peter DeFazio (D-Oregon) said in a statement. “I’m immensely grateful to my committee colleagues who spent months doing the hard work on behalf of the American people to get us to this point, and I urge the rest of my colleagues in Congress to now join us in fighting for a new vision to rebuild our country. The time is now to fix our crumbling infrastructure, cut carbon pollution from the transportation sector, and create millions of good-paying jobs in urban, suburban and rural communities.”
During the markup, the committee adopted amendments from both sides of the aisle, including 34 Republican amendments and 23 Democratic amendments. Republican members of the committee criticized certain aspects of the bill, saying the proposed legislation "focuses heavily on meeting the goals of the Green New Deal" rather than carrying out the core functions of the nation's transportation infrastructure.
"Throughout this entire process, Committee Republicans were ready to bring our priorities to the table, discuss them in the context of the Majority’s priorities, and look for common ground," Committee Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-Missouri) said in a statement. "And surely there was common ground to be found, including on resiliency and climate issues. Believe it or not, Republicans don’t automatically oppose addressing these issues. But many of us do oppose the way this particular bill goes about it—through overreaching and heavy-handed mandates. There is a difference between addressing the issue and transforming every single core infrastructure program into a climate change program."
The INVEST in America Act—which the committee says enables the completion of critical projects through long-term, sustainable funding—authorizes $494 billion over five years to address some of the country’s surface transportation and infrastructure needs.
SOURCE: House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure