By Mark Valentini, Director of Legislative Affairs
On Aug. 10, the U.S. Senate passed a long-awaited infrastructure package on a bipartisan 69-30 vote. The package is valued at approximately $1 trillion, about $600 billion of which is new spending. $55 billion has been earmarked for water infrastructure projects, including drinking and waste water treatment, as well as lead pipe replacement. An additional $5 billion has been earmarked for western U.S. water storage-where western states are experiencing record drought—and $47 billion has been set aside for building resiliency. The chart below (gathered from publicly gathered data) outlines how much money will be allocated for projects under this legislation:
Water projects are expected to provide opportunities for plumbing contractors, while building resiliency projects may provide opportunities for both plumbing and HVAC contractors. Additionally, privately-funded construction projects expected to occur as a by-product of large federal projects will also provide employment and bidding opportunities in the construction industry.
Passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill (HR3684) was followed later that week with Senate passage of a budget framework on a $3.5 trillion “social infrastructure” spending bill outlining the Biden administration’s top priorities such as free community college, health care expansion, free pre-K and child care, amongst other proposals not expected to gain traction with Republicans.
The budget framework will only need 50 votes in the Senate to pass, but Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) both have reservations about the cost and scope of the budget framework. Democrats need both of those Senators to pass the budget, and if their commitment cannot be secured, the budget debate could be dragged into the holidays pulling the bipartisan infrastructure bill with it. On the other hand, House liberals insist that the infrastructure bill and $3.5 trillion budget be tied together, though if a standalone infrastructure bill were up for a vote they risk being on record as voting against a popular bipartisan proposal.
The House of Representatives convened earlier this week to agree on the rule for moving forward on the budget framework. A group of ten House moderate Democrats led by Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) secured a commitment from Speaker Pelosi that the House would vote on the bipartisan infrastructure package and send it to the President, and that $3.5 billion spending
package be negotiated with Senators Sinema and Manchin in order to ensure its passage in the Senate. House liberals that insist on a more aggressive approach that is all-inclusive of their priorities are begrudgingly playing along. In return, House moderates would support the final spending package. If all goes to plan, a final vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill will occur by October–with the House not expected to convene until September 20, this is a very ambitious timeline considering Congress will need to also agree on raising the debt ceiling. We are not at the finish line yet. PHCC continues to advocate vigorously on behalf of our members and industry to ensure our interests are represented in the final infrastructure and budget packages. Stay tuned for further updates.
Director of Legislative Affairs , PHCC-National Association