By Mark Valentini, Director of Legislative Affairs
Since President Biden announced his administration’s ambitious plan to rebuild America’s infrastructure on March 31, debates for and against the proposal have dominated conversations in Washington and beyond. PHCC is watching these debates closely, as the current proposal includes several provisions that directly and indirectly affect contractors.
The American Jobs Plan is an eight-year, $2.3 trillion proposal making significant investments in the country’s highways and bridges, ports, broadband networks, energy grids, buildings, and water infrastructure, which is aligned with the LIFT America Act introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in March.
Specifically, the bill would make the following investments:
- Water (lead pipe replacement, etc.): $111 billion
- Energy: $100 billion
- Broadband: $100 billion
- Highways and Bridges: $571 billion
- Airports: $25 billion
- Ports: $117 billion
- Resiliency (improvements to Federal buildings): $50 billion
The spur in construction spending directly and indirectly related to this massive investment can potentially provide ample opportunities for PHCC contractors nationwide, in addition to helping the country recover economically from the COVID pandemic while making much-needed improvements to our nation’s infrastructure, which most recently received a “C-” from the American Society of Civil Engineers.
The administration would need support from Congress to implement the plan, with congressional Democrats seemingly fully onboard with the president’s plan while Republicans are hesitant about the proposed corporate tax increases and rollback of the Republican-supported tax reform law passed at the end of 2017 to pay for the bill.
Republicans proposed their own infrastructure framework late last week. The proposal costs $658 billion, roughly a quarter of the Democrats’ plan, with roughly half the cost earmarked for transportation projects. The Republican proposal does include $35 billion for drinking and wastewater projects, as well as $14 billion for water storage. The bill would be paid with unused federal funds, particularly from unused COVID relief funds, in addition to other innovative financing via the private sector.
The amount of spending in the Democrats’ proposal makes Republicans reluctant to support the bill, while the Republican proposal is too small in scale for Democrats to support. Democratic leadership in Congress indicated it may force their legislation through the process of reconciliation (the same process used to pass the most recent COVID relief bill last month) if they do not garner enough Republican support. The Biden administration and Congress are aiming to pass a bill by mid-summer, but, with less than five working weeks in Congress before the July 4 recess, this may be a heavy lift. If it is passed through reconciliation, Senate rules would prohibit the inclusion of the PRO Act in the legislation as it is not a budget-related item.
PHCC has been advocating for robust water infrastructure funding before key congressional committees for several years and has concerns about certain environmental proposals and labor provisions that need to be addressed before offering any support for the president’s plan. Please contact Mark Valentini, Director of Legislative Affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (703) 752-9871 for any questions, concerns, or if you have any input to offer on the president’s plan.
Director of Legislative Affairs , PHCC-National Association