By Mark Valentini, Director of Legislative Affairs
On Friday evening, Nov. 5, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework where it now goes to the President for his signature.
The $1.2 trillion legislation is the largest investment in U.S. infrastructure since the Eisenhower administration. Roughly half the cost of the proposal will be slated toward surface transportation projects, with the rest focused on non-highway infrastructure, including:
- $55 billion for water infrastructure, including lead pipe replacement and mitigation of lead contamination;
- $47 billion for building resiliency projects;
- $73 billion for increasing capacity of the electric grid; and
- $5 billion for western U.S. water storage.
The trillion-dollar public investment is expected to provide ample opportunities for contractors to compete for projects, and private sector projects expected to spawn from the investment have the potential to put even more contractors to work in both the residential and commercial sectors. Plumbing contractors can expect opportunities to compete for contracts resulting from investments in water infrastructure, while plumbing and HVAC contractors can expect similar on the building resiliency side.
The legislation, however, is not perfect. The workforce development proposals focus on the public sector and transportation, with the only apprenticeship provisions occurring exclusively in the trucking industry. Furthermore, BIF was passed with the expectation that Congress would follow-up with passage of the Build Back Better (BBB) plan, a $1.75 trillion bill that includes tax increases expected to have an impact on PHCC contractors.
While BIF passed as a caveat to pass BBB and the tax increases it encompasses, there’s a chance it may not have the expected effect now that moderates have been relieved of the pressure to support BBB. In addition, the Congressional Budget Office has not yet “scored” the bill (that is, estimating the legislation’s actual cost) thereby delaying a vote until before Thanksgiving. Even with House passage of the BBB, it is likely to be subject to further amendments in the Senate which would then send the bill back to the House for another vote, further delaying passage of the bill until possibly the end of the year, assuming House Democrats accept whatever changes would be made in the Senate.
Passage of the BBB may not be guaranteed, but this is no time to put our guard down. PHCC will be paying close attention to developments, while keeping up a vigorous fight against harmful tax increases that will hurt our contractors. If you haven’t already, be sure to tell your legislators in Washington to support p-h-c contractors and oppose tax increases by clicking here.
Director of Legislative Affairs , PHCC-National Association