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Up to date information on major Federal infrastructure initiatives.
September 24, 2021 - Update
prepared by WSP USA
The House of Representatives is expected to consider H.R. 3684, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), on Monday, September 27 Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) announced today. Of note, Leader Hoyer used the word consider and not vote when explaining expected floor activity on the IIJA. This may be because it is still unclear if there is enough support for passage of the bill by Monday and ahead of completion of the reconciliation package. Progressive members of the House Democratic Caucus want to vote on the reconciliation bill before or in tandem with the IIJA and have threatened to oppose final passage of the infrastructure bill if this does not occur. Moderate Democrats were promised that the House would take up the IIJA by September 27 and are insisting on completion of the bill by this date. Less than 10 Republicans have announced their support for the infrastructure bill and the Republican Leadership is actively whipping against the bill, encouraging Republican members to oppose final passage. All things considered, the path to passage is riddled with uncertainty and infrastructure watchers in Washington DC are monitoring developments closely. As the process continues to unfold, stay tuned for additional interim Washington Updates with the latest intel and information.
House Budget Committee Chairman David Yarmuth (D-KY) has scheduled a rare Saturday session to markup up the "Build Back Better" reconciliation package paving the way for floor consideration. Leader Hoyer announced today that it is his intention to bring the reconciliation bill to the floor next week. A link to the bill can be found here. The Transportation and Infrastructure section of the draft bill includes:
The House voted 220 to 211 on Tuesday night to pass a stopgap continuing resolution that would keep the federal government funded through December 3, though Republicans in the Senate have pledged to block it. September 30 is the deadline for Congress to pass the CR to avoid a partial government shutdown. The bill includes $28.6 billion in disaster relief, $6.3 billion to help resettle Afghan refugees, and suspends the U.S. debt limit through December 2022, something that has drawn opposition from Senate Republicans.
The Senate is scheduled to vote at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, September 27 on H.R. 5305, the House-passed CR. The vote scheduled is to invoke cloture to proceed with the bill and 60 votes are required meaning at least 10 Republican Senators are needed for cloture. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has made it clear that Republican Senators will not support the debt limit provisions included in the CR.
The House of Representatives late Thursday passed its version of the fiscal year 2022 NDAA by a bipartisan 316-113 margin. The bill -- which sets defense spending at $740 billion, $24 billion over what was requested by the Biden administration -- now heads to the Senate. The NDAA is the annual defense policy bill.
The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation held a hearing on Thursday on four U.S. DOT nominees:
A link to the hearing can be found here.
As the historic infrastructure package - the IIJA - continues its path through the legislative process, WSP's experts are prepared to help clients deliver on the true value of the expected infrastructure funding, helping to identify opportunities and secure available funds designated for initiatives that will deliver the next generation of America's infrastructure. For more information click here where you will also find WSP's overview of the expected funding opportunities.
The Senate is nearing completion on HR 3684, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), and is expected to vote on final passage this weekend. Majority Leader Schumer has filed a cloture motion to wind down debate with a procedural vote scheduled for Saturday, August 7 at 12 noon. Assuming 60 Senators vote in favor of the cloture motion, debate will be limited to a maximum of 30 hours setting up final passage for as early as Sunday evening.
Text of the IIJA was released earlier in the week. The 2,702-page bill includes historic and generational funding for vital investments for infrastructure rehabilitation, replacement, and modernization. More than 300 amendments to the bill have been filed, but only a handful have been adopted, making minor changes to the underlying bill. Here is a partial list of some of the amendments that have been considered (additional amendments are still pending and those that are considered, adopted, or rejected will be covered in the next Washington Update):
On Thursday the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its score for the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Based on CBO's estimates, the direct spending, appropriations, and revenue provisions in the legislation would add $256 billion in deficit spending over ten years. This development has generated debate about the pay-fors outlined in the bill - this of course was a major issue bipartisan negotiators worked to address in the underlying package to win support for the bill. In response to the CBO report, Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Krysten Sinema (D-AZ) issued a statement explaining the methodology used to pay for the new spending in the bill.
At a high level, the $550 billion in new infrastructure funding is broken down as follows:
Roads, Bridges, & Major Projects: $110B - Includes Commerce and EPW-passed surface transportation and reauthorization bills. Funds new, dedicated grant program to replace and repair bridges and increases funding for the major project competitive grant programs. The package preserves the 90/10 split of the federal highway aid to states.
Passenger and Freight Rail: $66B -The bipartisan infrastructure agreement provides $66 billion to Amtrak and the Federal Railroad Administration to address the infrastructure needs of the U.S. passenger rail and freight network. This section also includes the Commerce Committee-passed Surface Transportation Investment Act rail reauthorization. Provides funding the National Network for new service and dedicated funding to the Northeast Corridor, which has incurred a severe repair backlog after Hurricane Sandy. Increases funding for freight rail and safety.
Safety and Research: $11B - Funds highway and pedestrian safety and research programs, as well as pipeline and safety repair.
Public Transit: $39.2B - Funds nation's transit system repair backlog, which DOT estimates is more than 24,000 buses, 5,000 rail cars, 200 stations, and thousands of miles of track, signals, and power systems.
Broadband: $65B - Grants to states for broadband deployment and other efforts to close the digital divide. Expands eligible private activity bond projects to include broadband infrastructure.
Airports: $25B - Increase funds for Airport Improvement grant program for runways, gates, and taxiways as well as new Airport Terminal Improvement program for terminals, concessions, and multimodal connections.
Ports and Waterways: $16.6B - Funding for waterway and coastal infrastructure, inland waterway improvements, port infrastructure, and land ports of entry through the Army Corps, DOT, Coast Guard, the GSA, and DHS.
Water Infrastructure: $55B - Includes $24.3 billion for the bipartisan Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act of 2021. Provides a historic $15 billion for lead service line replacement and $10 billion to address Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS). Supports water infrastructure in Tribal communicates by providing $3.5B ($1.8 billion under Water Infrastructure and $1.7 billion under Resiliency) for the Indian Health Service Sanitation Facilities Construction program, in addition to funding to complete all currently authorized Indian Water Rights Settlements.
Power and Grid: $65B - Includes the bipartisan, ENR-passed Energy Infrastructure Act, which includes funds for grid reliability and resiliency and support for a Grid Deployment Authority; critical minerals and supply chains for clean energy technology; key technologies like carbon capture, hydrogen, direct air capture, and energy efficiency; and energy demonstration projects from the bipartisan Energy Act of 2020.
Resiliency: $47.2B - Funding for cybersecurity to address critical infrastructure needs, flood mitigation, wildfire, drought, coastal resiliency, waste management, ecosystem restoration, and weatherization.
Clean School Buses & Ferries: $7.5B - Includes historic $5 billion for the replacement of existing school buses with zero emission and clean school buses, with a priority on low income, rural and Tribal schools. Provides $2.5 billion for the replacement of existing ferries with low carbon ferries and to assist states with operational costs for essential rural ferries. These investments will drive demand for American-made batteries and vehicles, creating jobs and supporting domestic manufacturing, while also removing old, dirty diesel buses and ferries from some of our most vulnerable communities.
Electric Vehicle Charging: $7.5B - Funds for alternative fuel corridors to build out a national network of electric vehicle charging infrastructure to facilitate long-distance travel and to provide convenient charging where people live, work, and shop. The federal funding will have a particular focus on rural disadvantages, and hard-to-reach communities.
Reconnecting Communities: $1B - Total of $1 billion between contract authority and new appropriations. Funds for projects that remove barriers to opportunity caused by legacy infrastructure. The program will provide dedicated funding for planning, design, demolition, and reconstruction of street grids, parks, or other infrastructure.
Addressing Legacy Pollution: $21B - Funds to clean up brownfield and superfund sites, reclaim abandoned mine lands, and plug orphan oil and gas wells, improving public health and creating good-paying jobs.
Western Water Infrastructure: $8.3B - Funds for Bureau of Reclamation western water infrastructure, including for aging infrastructure, water storage, water recycling and reuse, waterSMART, and drought contingency plans, among other things.
Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) Wednesday held the first markups of the Senate Appropriations Committee for FY 2022, advancing the Agriculture, Energy and Water, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs appropriations bills through the Committee with strong bipartisan support. A link to the committee action and the FY 2022 bills can be found here.
The Energy and Water bill included $53.6 billion spending bill for the Energy Department, Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation on Wednesday, above the $53.2 billion water and energy measure passed in the House. The measure marks a $1.87 billion increase from FY 2021, with several targeted boosts toward clean energy.
Energy Department: Under the Senate draft bill, the Energy Department would receive $45.3 billion, a $3.3 billion or 7.8 percent increase over fiscal 2021 enacted levels. The legislation includes $100 million for the new Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations within DOE. Under the bill, nuclear energy research and development would get $1.591 billion, $83.2 million above the fiscal 2021 enacted level, while fossil energy and carbon management would receive $850 million, a $100 million boost over enacted levels.
Water programs: The bill would provide $8.7 billion to the Army Corps of Engineers, according to a Democratic summary of the bill -- $906 million over current levels and slightly above the House's fiscal year 2022 measure. That includes full use of the Inland Waterways Trust Fund. The measure would provide nearly $2 billion to the Interior Department for its water work. This includes $450 million in emergency funding to respond to the Western drought. Those overall funding levels are $300 million over current levels and slightly more than what the House measure would provide. The Energy and Water bill is among three funding measures approved by Senate appropriators on a bipartisan basis Wednesday. However, the Committee does yet not have an agreement on top-line spending limits for all spending bills, preventing the Senate from bringing appropriations to the floor and raising the likelihood of a Continuing Resolution (CR) assuming FY 2022 funding bills are not finalized by October 1.
In executive session and by voice vote, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee approved the nomination of Jennifer Homendy to lead the National Transportation Safety Board and Karen Hedlund to join the Surface Transportation Board. Next, both nominations will need a vote by the full Senate to complete the confirmation process.
FTA announced the availability of up to $38 million in competitive grant funds through a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for its Passenger Ferry Grant Program. The program funds capital projects that help eligible project sponsors support existing passenger ferry service, establish new service, and repair and modernize ferry boats, terminals and related facilities and equipment.
FTA's Passenger Ferry Grant Program and NOFO also will advance the goals of President Biden's Jan. 20 Executive Order on Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis. This year, $4 million is set aside in the NOFO specifically for low or zero-emission ferries or ferries using electric battery or fuel cell components and the infrastructure to support such ferries.
Instructions for applying can also be found at GRANTS.GOV (funding opportunity FTA-2021- 006-TPM-Ferry). Complete proposals must be submitted through the GRANTS.GOV "APPLY" function by Oct. 5, 2021.
The Senate voted today to proceed with debate on H.R. 3684, also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal (BID), by a vote of 66-to-28. This follows an earlier procedural vote on Wednesday, July 28, when the Senate voted 67-32 to support a cloture motion allowing the Senate to proceed to consideration of H.R. 3684. Though multiple amendments are expected, which will add time to floor consideration, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer hopes to pass the infrastructure package quickly, potentially as early as next week.
|PASSENGER, FREIGHT RAIL||$66|
|ROADS, BRIDGES, MAJOR PROJECTS||$110|
|WESTERN WATER INFRASTRUCTURE||$5|
|ZERO/LOW EMISSION BUSES/FERRIES||$7.50|
This link https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/07/28/fact-sheet-historic-bipartisan-infrastructure-deal/ provides an overview of the bill. While certain "draft" and "staff" versions of the text have been circulated, a final package of the language is not yet available. The authorization bills from Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (S. 1931, highways) and the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee (S. 2016, safety, multimodal, hazmat and rail) provide the framework for key transportation elements of the package. The $1 trillion bill includes $550 billion in new spending and $450 billion in funding for existing programs. The $550 billion in new spending is distributed as follows:
Several programs were reduced as part of the compromise including the public transit account, which was cut by $10 billion versus the original framework, but it still represents an 83% increase over current funding. Additionally, the President's 'reconnecting communities' proposal was reduced from $25 billion in the American Jobs Plan to $1 billion.
As the bill makes its way through the Senate, there is some uncertainty around the path to final enactment. Many Democrats are insisting on the passage of a reconciliation package that addresses a much broader domestic agenda and array of issues. Some House Democrats say they do not have the votes to move the BID separately and will only pass it if a reconciliation package is moving simultaneously.
The House is set to go on recess for seven weeks starting Friday (today), though members may need need to return for a procedural vote on the reconciliation plan should the Senate move forward on it. The Senate will be in session next week, continuing consideration of the infrastructure package.
H.R. 4502, the seven-bill FY 2022 appropriations "minibus" passed in a 219-208 vote, increases funding at the departments of Labor, Education, Health and Human Services, Agriculture, Transportation and more. Information on the FY 2022 'minibus' appropriations bill can be found here.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (FERC) commissioners testified at an Energy and Commerce oversight hearing on ways FERC can help facilitate a transition to clean energy, such as its current work to reform electricity transmission. FERC Chair Richard Glick outlined some of FERC's priorities including updated transmission, modernizing electricity markets, updating natural gas certificate policy, protecting grid reliability and opening up decision making to the public. Click here to learn more about the hearing.
The House Committee on Oversight and Reform and the Senate Commerce Committee held hearings this week to examine cybersecurity threats to the nation's energy infrastructure. The link to the House hearing can be found here and the Senate hearing link can be found here.
The Small Business Committee, Subcommittee on Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Workforce Development met to hear testimony on clean energy and the opportunities to boost small business growth. An overview of the hearing can be found here.
The big story continues to be infrastructure and the flurry of activity underway to advance a comprehensive infrastructure package, which hit a roadblock earlier this week. On Wednesday, July 21, the Senate rejected Majority Leader Schumer's cloture motion to proceed to the consideration of H.R. 3684, the INVEST in America Act. Republicans objected largely because specifics of the Senate package have not been shared nor have the pay-fors. The Senate voted 49-51, falling short of the 60 votes required to proceed to debate. Senator Schumer changed his "yes" vote to "no" so that he can offer a motion to reconsider the matter later.
Despite the setback, there is continuing momentum to find a path forward. While there is still no legislative text available, reportedly the negotiators of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework (BIF) are zeroing in on a more traditional infrastructure package using the legislation passed out of Senate Commerce Committee and the Environment and Public Works Committee as the foundation for the bill. Intense negotiations are ongoing and will continue through the weekend. Sources close to the discussions are optimistic that an agreement may be reached soon - as early as today or Monday. Once a deal is struck, and the Senate votes to proceed with debate, a minimum of two weeks of Senate floor time will be required for consideration of the bill.
There are other new hurdles that have emerged including Senate EPW objections to the level of Water Infrastructure that is under consideration. Several Democratic Senators are citing the variance between the $35 billion water infrastructure bill passed earlier this year and what bipartisan negotiators are providing, eliminating roughly $15 billion of that amount. EPW Chairman Tom Carper (D-DE) insists he will oppose any package that does not fully fund the EPW's approved levels for investment.
The other matter that continues to linger is the outlook for a broader reconciliation package as Speaker Pelosi remains adamant that the House will not proceed to consideration of any bipartisan infrastructure deal without a reconciliation package.
On the other side of Capitol Hill, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) issued a strong statement against Senate efforts and implored his House colleagues to insist upon inclusion of provisions from the House passed INVEST in America Act. Click here for summary of House bill. In a letter to Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Schumer, 30 House T&I Democrats urged inclusion of policies in the House passed INVEST in America Act, as well as member designated projects (earmarks) found on pages 47-180.
Next week, the House will consider seven Fiscal Year 2022 Appropriations bill including the Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies bill and the Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies bill. Summaries of the committee- passed bills follow.
The 2022 Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies funding bill provides funding of $84.1 billion, an increase of $8.7 billion - more than 11 percent - above 2021. This includes an increase of $6.8 billion is for the Department of Housing and Urban Development and $1.9 billion for the Department of Transportation. In total, the bill provides $162.6 billion in budgetary resources, an increase of $25.9 billion above 2021. A summary of the bill is here. A list of the Community Project Funding items can be found here. Follow these links to the Bill Text and Committee Report
A full list and summary of all seven of the Appropriations bills being considered can be found here.
The House Aviation Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA), held a hearing focused on diversity and inclusion disparities in the aviation industry: "Bridging the Gap: Improving Diversity and Inclusion in the U.S. Aviation Workforce."
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held a hearing to examine the potential cybersecurity threats currently facing America's infrastructure. Chairman Tom Carper's (D-DE) statement can be found here. Several witnesses, including ITS America, offered compelling testimony about the risks and vulnerabilities facing vital infrastructure assets. Video of the hearing and copies of the testimony can be found here.
On July 22, House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) hosted a press conference featuring Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, Deputy Secretary of Education Cindy Marten, Education, Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and other representatives from industry all expressing the urgent need to address workforce development and workforce shortages impacting every state in the union and nearly every sector of the economy. The full press conference can be viewed here.
The Federal Railroad Administration and Federal Transit Administration announced final environmental actions for the Hudson Tunnel Project and limited claims to challenge these actions published in the Federal Register - link found here. This comes after the FRA and FTA released a final environmental impact statement for the long-delayed passenger-rail tunnel between New York and New Jersey in May.
The past few days have been a roller coaster ride for potential passage of a broad infrastructure bill.
Late last week, a bipartisan group of senators stood alongside President Joe Biden at the White House and announced that they had reached an approximately $1 trillion infrastructure compromise framework after weeks of negotiations. Less than 24 hours later, Republican members of the bipartisan group began expressing serious concerns over President Biden's pledge to only sign the bipartisan infrastructure bill if it arrives at his desk alongside a larger, multi-trillion dollar package tackling climate change, prescription drugs, Medicare expansion and more of the Democratic Party's progressive priorities that would be passed using the controversial budget reconciliation process. The resulting uproar threatened to blow up the deal. However, over the weekend, President Biden announced that he would, in fact, sign an infrastructure-only bill.
As previously reported, the bi-partisan, broad infrastructure proposal currently consists solely of a two-page framework that still must be turned into legislative language and passed by both houses of Congress.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework would provide $1.2 trillion over eight years, of which $579 billion would be new spending above baseline levels. The Framework includes funding for transportation programs as well as water and power infrastructure, broadband, environmental remediation and resilience. A fact sheet released by the White House can be found here. According to the fact sheet, the Framework would be financed through "a combination of closing the tax gap, redirecting unspent emergency relief funds, targeted corporate user fees, and the macroeconomic impact of infrastructure investment."
In the meantime, the House and Senate efforts to pass a five-year FAST Act surface transportation reauthorization bill continue to progress and the full House plans to debate and hopefully pass its INVEST bill (HR 3684) later this week. The House Rules Committee met yesterday continuing into today to sort through the over 230 amendments that were submitted. Most amendments are not expected to be ruled in order for floor consideration. Other, non-controversial amendments will likely be packaged into en-bloc amendments blessed by House T&I Committee leaders. The bill is expected to pass without the traditional tax title, leaving the pay-fors uncertain, other than a massive $148 billion transfer from the general fund to the Highway Trust Fund. This has opened the bill up to more criticism from Republicans, who have already mostly opposed the bill over its scope and contents. Despite Republican objections, the bill is likely to pass given the Democrats' slim majority in the House.
Senate committees have passed two of the three key components of their companion surface transportation bill (highways and rail). The Banking Committee still needs to produce a transit bill before the various pieces can be merged and voted on by the full Senate. The House and Senate surface transportation bills will then be reconciled into a final bill and sent to the President for a signature. Although, presumably, at some point, these surface bills will converge with the broader, bi-partisan infrastructure bill.
At an event at the White House this afternoon, President Biden announced that he has reached an agreement on a large infrastructure package with a bi-partisan group of Senators (see his attached remarks and the 2-page "framework" of the deal). Details of what has been agreed to are still vague and how the deal will be turned into legislation and passed by Congress and on what timeline are still unclear, but this is a huge step forward.
There are now several different infrastructure efforts currently proceeding on separate tracks that will presumably converge at some point.
The funding levels for the various infrastructure programs in the "framework" are essentially the same as those released by the group earlier this week (see attached), however, there are a number of changes in the proposed funding/financing revenue sources. Earlier proposals to pay for the infrastructure plan had included indexing the federal gas tax and a surcharge on EVs. Those options have been dropped. Back on the table are a number of somewhat dubious revenue sources such as extending expiring custom fees, sales from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, and reducing the IRS tax collection gap.
There are still many potential pitfalls ahead, but this is significant progress and there is optimism that a broad infrastructure bill may actually pass this summer.
This webinar took place Monday, June 14, 2021.
Federal policymakers are negotiating funding proposals that could transform the possibilities for infrastructure projects across the country. Congressional action could create new categories of federal funding, provide additional funding for existing programs, or reform existing requirements to qualify for funding.
During this webinar, WSP's experts cut through the confusion to summarize the big takeaways from the competing proposals and highlight steps public agencies should be taking now to position for new funds.
WSP has the tools and experience to help your organization identify and apply for funding for infrastructure programs. Our team's national experience--combined with local knowledge--helps agencies to devise a winning strategy.
Over the past decade, WSP has helped our clients secure nearly $31 billion in state and federal grants and loans for more than 140 infrastructure projects nationwide.
The congressional deliberations over a broad infrastructure bill as well as a five-year reauthorization of the FAST Act surface transportation bill (which expires on September 30, 2021) are moving quickly, but the path forward is still quite murky.
In the Senate, the Commerce Committee approved a bipartisan rail (passenger and freight) authorization bill on June 16 (see more details below). This is a companion bill to S.1931 passed unanimously by the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee (EPW) in late May which reauthorizes the federal-aid highway program. Before the overall reauthorization package can be considered on the Senate floor, the Senate Banking Committee must pass a transit title and the Senate Finance Committee must pass a revenue/funding title.
The House is tentatively scheduled to debate (and hopefully pass) its version of a five-year surface transportation authorization bill on the House floor the week of June 28 - in an effort to meet Speaker Pelosi's goal of getting a bill passed by July 4. HR 3684, the INVEST Act, authorizes $547B over five-years to fund highways, transit, and rail programs.
President Biden and the group of now 20 bipartisan Senators (10 Democrats and 10 Republicans) continue to negotiate the terms of a broader infrastructure bill that Biden proposed in his $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan to include funding for a very wide array of infrastructure programs including airports and ports, power grid, water, broadband, federal buildings, school modernization, affordable housing, etc.
The bipartisan group of 20 Senators unveiled a framework on June 16 for an infrastructure bill that would include spending roughly $1.2 trillion over eight years for transportation (including airports and ports), power, broadband, and water, but not some of the other less traditional infrastructure programs proposed by Biden, such as schools and federal buildings. But the group is still struggling to determine how to pay for the package amid pushback from Democrats over some of the proposed funding options - indexing the federal gas tax to inflation and repurposing some of the previously allocated coronavirus relief funds. The Administration has not yet endorsed the proposal.
Democratic leadership in Congress is trying to balance the bipartisan talks with a growing push from many within the House and Senate Democratic caucuses to move forward on their own with a larger, more comprehensive package that could be passed under the controversial budget reconciliation process and avoid a Senate filibuster.
The House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee passed the INVEST in America Act (H.R. 3684), a five-year reauthorization of the FAST Act surface transportation bill, in the early morning hours of June 10. The final vote was 38 to 26 with only two Republicans voting for the bill. Despite over 200 amendments being submitted to the Committee for consideration only a very few, relatively minor amendments were approved during the mark-up.
Provisions provided by the Energy and Commerce Committee and the Ways and Means Committee have now been added to the bill in advance of floor consideration. The text of INVEST in America Act with modifications is here and an updated section-by-section summary is here. The INVEST in America Act now heads to the House floor for a vote, likely the week of June 28, 2021.
The Ways & Means funding/revenue provisions added to the bill propose to pay for the bill by providing a $148 billion transfer from the Treasury's General Fund ($109 billion to the highway account and $39 billion to the mass transit account). It would be the largest ever such transfer and more than twice as large as the general fund transfer in the 2015 FAST Act. Additionally, the updated text of the bill removes the $40 million national VMT pilot program included in the T&I-approved bill.
On June 16, the Senate Commerce Committee passed a bi-partisan rail reauthorization bill, S. 2016 - the Surface Transportation Investment Act of 2021, by a vote of 25 to 3. The bill is the Committee's portion of the FAST ACT surface transportation reauthorization effort.
The FAST Act consists of three titles - highway/bridge, transit, and rail. In the Senate, each title is under the jurisdiction of a different committee. The Senate Environment & Public Works Committee, which has jurisdiction over the highway title, passed its bill, S. 1931, out of committee on May 26 on a unanimous vote - the STRA bill. The Senate Banking Committee, which has jurisdiction over the transit title, has not yet released a bill, nor has the Senate Finance Committee released its funding package.
This Senate effort is a companion to the House T&I Committee's HR 3684, the INVEST Act, its version of a five-year surface transportation authorization bill which the Committee passed on June 10.
The Commerce bill proposes an investment of $78 billion over 5 years for multimodal surface transportation, rail, freight, and safety programs - $36 billion for rail, $27.8 billion for multimodal grant programs, and $13 billion for safety programs.
Below are some highlights from the Surface Transportation Investment Act:
MULTIMODAL AND FREIGHT INVESTMENTS - $28 billion
RAIL - $36 billion
SAFETY - $13 billion
RESEARCH - $1 billion
The House Appropriations Committee is kicking off the FY'22 annual federal funding process with a series of mark-ups by the individual federal agency subcommittees over the next few weeks.
Monday, June 28
Subcommittee Markups: Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies; State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs
Wednesday, June 30
Full Committee Markups: Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies; Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies
Subcommittee Markups: Defense; Homeland Security
Monday, July 12
Subcommittee Markups: Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies; Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies; Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies; Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies
Additional information and documents, including archived WSP Washington Updates and the video and slides from the recent WSP webinar on Federal Infrastructure Plans held on June 14 are located on the WSP Federal Briefing website at www.federalbriefing.com
The saga of passing a federal infrastructure bill continues with several steps forward and at least one step backwards. On Tuesday evening, the White House announced that it was calling off negotiations with Senate Republicans, led by Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), the senior Republican on the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee (EPW). Repeated talks and meetings had narrowed the gap between the President's American Jobs Plan and the Senate proposal, but the two sides were still very far apart. The major differences that could not be overcome were the definition of infrastructure, the total size/cost, and how to pay for the bill.
The White House has now turned its attention to working with a bi-partisan group of 20 individual Senators to see if a deal can be reached. If the bi-partisan efforts fail, it appears the Administration is still considering trying to pass a bill in the Senate using the highly complex and controversial budget reconciliation process which only requires 50 votes.
In the meantime, on May 26, the Senate EPW Committee passed a highway-only bill as part of a larger effort to pass a multi-year FAST Act reauthorization bill.
In the House, the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee (T&I) introduced its version of a multi-year surface transportation authorization bill - essentially a reauthorization of the current FAST Act - and yesterday started the process to mark-up and approve the bill in committee. However, over the course of 10 hours, the Committee got through just 29 amendments out of a total of about 230 submitted, with only two minor amendments being adopted. The mark-up will continue today.
It is important to note that the current House and Senate committee actions only relate to moving a multi-year surface transportation reauthorization bill while the White House continues to focus on a much broader infrastructure bill which would include water, power grid, broadband, affordable housing, school modernization, public buildings, etc. In the meantime, the FAST Act, which authorizes highway, transit, and rail programs, expires on September 30, 2021.
Late last week, the House T&I Committee introduced the "Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation (INVEST) in America Act", HR 3684, a five-year surface transportation bill, which directs federal investments in roads, bridges, transit, and rail. Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) has referred to his bill as a down payment on a broader infrastructure bill similar to what President Biden has proposed.
The bill authorizes $547 billion for these programs versus the $494 billion that was authorized by a similar bill (HR 2) which the House passed in the previous Congress, but which never became law. Many of the INVEST Act's policy provisions and programmatic changes are similar to HR 2, with some changes to align the bill more closely with components of the President's American Jobs Plan. The first year of the bill - FY'22 - is essentially a one-year extension of the current, but soon expiring, FAST Act with few policy changes.
Over two hundred potential amendments were submitted to the committee for consideration. Action on the bill in committee began yesterday and will extend into Thursday.
The bill provides $343 billion (63% of the total funding) over five years for roads, bridges and highway safety, $109 billion (20%) for transit (Title II beginning on page 553 of the bill text) and $95 billion (17%) for passenger rail (Amtrak $32 billion) and freight rail (beginning on page 1043). There is a strong focus on funding for infrastructure resiliency, emissions reduction, and other climate provisions.
Project Earmarks - The table with approved Member Designated Projects (earmarks) can be found in section 107 of Division A of the INVEST Act (pages 47 to 180) linked here. The bill provides $5.66 billion for 1,473 highway and transit projects.
House Members requested a total of 2,380 project earmarks totaling $14.9 billion - 1,775 by 213 Democratic members and 605 by 105 Republican members.
House T&I Republicans - Led by Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-MO), the Committee Republicans have reintroduced their counter-proposal to the Democrats efforts - a revised version of the "STARTER Act" which they introduced in the previous Congress. The "STARTER Act 2.0" provides approximately $400 billion in funding over five years, a 32 percent increase over current FAST Act funding. The bill is not expected to go very far in the Democrat-majority House, but its introduction underscores the lack of bi-partisan agreement in the House.
The Senate EPW Committee passed the "Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act of 2021" (STRA) on May 26 by a vote of 20 to 0. It authorizes $303.5 billion over five years in contract authority for highway programs from the Highway Trust Fund and an additional $7.8 billion from the General Fund (subject to annual appropriations), for a total investment of $311.3 billion for fiscal years 2022-2026. This is a 34% funding increase over total FAST Act funding levels. The three top policy priorities according to the Committee are: climate change, safety, and equity. Ninety percent of the funding would go to state DOTs through formulas. The Senate bill does not include project earmarks.
The full text (549 pages) of the STRA can be found here. Additional materials include a section-by-section summary, tables for state by state apportionments and program authorizations and a Committee press release.
The other Senate committees with jurisdiction over surface transportation authorization - Banking (transit), Commerce (rail/Amtrak/highway safety) and Finance (funding/revenue) still must produce and approve their portions of an overall bill before the bill can go to the Senate floor.
On Wednesday morning, before starting debate on the INVEST Act, the T&I Committee marked up and approved H.R. 1915, the Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act of 2021, on a bipartisan vote. The bill authorizes tens of billions of dollars of new federal investment for clean water.
H.R. 1915, which builds on the Senate's recent passage of the Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act of 2021 (DWWIA), S. 914, serves as the House's counterpart clean water legislation. House leadership hopes to bring the bill before the full House for a vote prior to July 4th and begin conference negotiations with the Senate.
As passed by the committee, H.R. 1915:
After several weeks of mostly behind the scenes negotiations, late last week there were several developments in the effort to pass a major infrastructure bill.
The White House announced some progress in its discussions with Senate Republicans over the scope and cost of a broad infrastructure stimulus bill (although both sides are still very far apart), the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee released the text of its highway authorization bill and plans to mark it up on Wednesday, the House T&I Committee continued its work to draft an infrastructure bill but its schedule has slipped and introduction of a bill now will not occur until early to mid-June, and House T&I Committee Republicans released a slightly revised version of their 2020 surface transportation bill - "STARTER Act 2.0".
Last year, in the previous Congress under a Republican majority, the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee (EPW), which has jurisdiction over the federal highway program, passed a highway (only) authorization bill, the "America's Transportation Infrastructure Act" (ATIA) as one part of the Senate's effort to pass a multi-year FAST Act surface transportation reauthorization bill. That bill died at the end of the 116th Congress. The FAST Act expires on September 30, 2021.
Senator Tom Carper (D-DE), the new Democratic majority chair of the EPW Committee, along with the bi-partisan leadership of the Committee, has revised the 2020 ATIA and late on Friday introduced a new version. The Committee plans to mark-up the bill this week on May 26 at 9:45am.
The "Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act of 2021" (STRA) authorizes $303.5 billion over five years in contract authority for highway programs from the Highway Trust Fund and an additional $7.8 billion from the General Fund (subject to annual appropriations), for a total investment of $311.3 billion for Fiscal Years 2022-2026. This is a 34% funding increase over total FAST Act funding levels. The three top policy priorities according to the Committee are: climate change, safety, and equity. Ninety percent of the funding would go to state DOTs through formulas. The Senate bill does not include project earmarks.
The full text (549 pages) of the STRA can be found here. Additional materials include a section-by-section summary, tables for state by state apportionments and program authorizations and a Committee press release.
Here are some key provisions of the bill with a focus on changes from last year's version:
The other Senate committees with jurisdiction over surface transportation authorization have yet to produce their portions of an overall bill - Banking (transit), Commerce (airports/rail/Amtrak/highway safety) and Finance (funding/revenue).
President Biden and the Administration continue to negotiate with Senate Republicans over the cost and scope of a potentially massive infrastructure stimulus bill. The White House had proposed an eight-year, $2.3 trillion "American Jobs Plan" that would fund a broad array of infrastructure programs and projects, including transportation, ports, water, energy, schools, broadband, federal buildings, etc. While the Democratic majority in the House has expressed support for the Plan, Senate Republicans (whose votes are needed to pass such a bill) are opposed to the funding levels, the "pay-fors" (such as corporate tax increases), the broad definition of infrastructure, and the priority placed on combating climate change.
Senate Republicans, under the leadership of Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), the senior Republican on the EPW Committee, initially presented a counter proposal of $568 billion over five years with a focus primarily on the more traditional definition of infrastructure - roads, bridges, transit and airports - but with no specific funding source.
On Friday, the Biden Administration presented its counter-proposal to Capito's offer. It offers to reduce total funding by $550 billion, down to $1.7 trillion. It would drop the R&D, manufacturing, and supply chain components of the original package, and reduce the supplemental funding for roads and bridges from $160 billion to $120 billion, and broadband from $100 billion to $65 billion.
The memo also underscores the desire to include missing pieces from the Republican Senate offer, such as investments in the power grid, environmental remediation, public buildings and other vertical construction, and child care and elder care programs. The memo also notes that the Republican proposals for drinking water, rail and transit, and resilience are inadequate. Lawmakers and Administration officials are expected to continue conversations next week.
The House T&I Committee is continuing to draft its version of a multi-year infrastructure bill - a revised version of HR 2, the "Moving Forward Act", which the House passed last year on a mostly partisan vote. Chairman DeFazio (D-OR) had hoped to introduce and mark-up a bill by the Memorial Day recess, but now it appears the earliest the bill will be introduced and acted on is June 8 or 9. One of the holdups has been the effort to sort through the thousands of project earmark requests.
House Members requested a total of 2,380 project earmarks totaling $14.9 billion - 1,775 by 213 Democratic members and 605 by 105 Republican members. The total amount requested is significantly more than is expected to be available. Rumor has it that each Member who requests earmarks is likely to receive approximately $15M to $20M in total funding for earmarks. Here is a link to the Committee website with information on the earmark requests. House members along with their project requests are listed in alphabetical order.
House T&I Republicans, led by Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-MO), have reintroduced their counter-proposal to the Democrats efforts - a revised version of the "STARTER Act" which they introduced in the previous Congress.
The "STARTER Act 2.0" provides approximately $400 billion in funding over five years, a 32 percent increase over current FAST Act funding. A press release on the bill can be found here, the section-by-section summary here, and the full bill text here. The bill is not expected to go very far in the Democrat-majority House, but its introduction underscores the lack of bi-partisan agreement in the house.
This Update is a follow-on to the May 4 WSP Washington Update - see text below. The May 4 Update provided information about earmark requests made by House members for potential inclusion in the annual FY'22 appropriations bills across all 12 federal agency funding bills. More recently, the House Transportation & Infrastructure (T&I) Committee released information on the project earmarks requested by House members for potential inclusion in the pending, multi-year surface transportation/infrastructure authorization bill.
Here is a link to the Committee website with information on the earmark requests. House members along with their project requests are listed in alphabetical order.
While it is difficult to know which or how many of these requests for funding will be included in the House transportation/infrastructure authorization bill (or the annual appropriations bills), the list of projects provides a good roadmap of what individual Members' priorities are, which local projects have strong political support, and which projects might apply for a discretionary grant award at some point in the future if they do not receive a congressional earmark.
House Members requested a total of 2,380 project earmarks totaling $14.9 billion - 1,775 by 213 Democratic members and 605 by 105 Republican members. The total amount requested is significantly more than is expected to be available. Rumor has it that each Member who requests earmarks is likely to receive approximately $15M to $20M in total funding for earmarks.
House T&I Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) hopes to release and mark-up a draft bill shortly after the upcoming Memorial Day recess. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said she would like to see a bill on the House floor by July 4 - both aggressive and optimistic timelines.
Leaders of the House Appropriations Committee recently announced that the Committee will consider funding individual projects - referred to as "Community Project Funding", but more commonly known as project earmarks - for the first time in almost ten years. House Members were required to submit project funding requests to the Committee by April 30. The 12 House Appropriation subcommittees are in the process of drafting their annual FY'22 federal agency funding bills.
The Committee has posted a list of links to individual Members of Congress' websites (in alphabetical order) listing the project earmarks they have requested for FY'22. Here is a link to the Committee website. Each member has listed their earmark requests a little differently, but generally they are listed by which subcommittee would provide the funding i.e. Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD), Homeland Security, Energy & Water, etc.
A few points to note:
Senate Republicans do not support bringing back earmarks so it is unclear how this will all get sorted out when the separate House and Senate versions of the annual appropriations bills get reconciled.
The House Appropriations Committee accepted a maximum of 10 community project requests from each member, though only a handful may actually be funded.
The Committee will limit total Community Project Funding to no more than 1 percent of discretionary spending.
Members must provide evidence of community support that were compelling factors in their decision to select the requested projects.
These earmarks are separate from the earmarks submitted by Members of Congress to the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee for potential funding in the next multi-year FAST Act surface transportation authorization bill which the Committee is currently drafting.