President Biden and a bipartisan group of Senators announced June 24 that they had reached a tentative agreement on a $1.2 trillion infrastructure deal that would add $579 billion in new investments in roads, broadband internet, electric utilities and other projects.
According to a fact sheet released by the White House, the framework calls for investments in clean transportation infrastructure, clean water infrastructure, universal broadband, clean power infrastructure, remediation of legacy pollution, and resilience to the changing climate.
The billion deal includes $312 billion for transportation, according to a White House summary. Within that figure is $109 billion for roads, bridges, and major projects, $11 billion for safety, $66 billion for passenger and freight rail, $49 billion for public transit, and $25 billion for airports.
Of interest to NATSO members, the framework also calls for $7.5 billion to construct a national network of 500,000 electric vehicle charging infrastructure and $73 billion for power infrastructure, including grid authority.
The White House and 21 Senators have been negotiating the infrastructure deal simultaneously as both the House and the Senate advance surface transportation reauthorization legislation. Current surface transportation law expires Sept. 30 and funds the vast majority of the nation’s infrastructure projects.
The U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote next week on its transportation reauthorization bill, the INVEST in America Act. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee advanced its reauthorization bill out of committee, but it is not yet known when the Senate will take up a floor vote.
The infrastructure proposal announced by the White House outlines a variety of potential pay-fors, including sales from the strategic petroleum reserve, public private partnerships, private activity bonds, direct pay bonds and asset recycling for infrastructure investment.
NATSO strongly opposed asset recycling, which funds new infrastructure and revitalizes existing infrastructure through the sale or lease of public assets, when it was previously proposed by the Trump Administration because it could easily lead to tolling and commercial rest areas.
The Alliance for Toll-Free Interstates issued a statement to media June 18 opposing asset recycling and tolls as a means of funding infrastructure. “Tolling is an underhanded tax on the supply chain and the American public, not a user fee. Similarly, ‘asset recycling’ is a euphemism for taxation by tolling, in which public roads are leased to private operators who will charge far more for roads than they cost to build – draining everyday drivers to line the pockets of Wall Street and international investors,” ATFI said in its statement to media. “Any attempt to expand tolling would violate President Biden’s pledge not to raise taxes on Americans making less than $400,000 annually.”
Additional proposed financing sources include: reducing the IRS tax gap; unemployment insurance program integrity; redirecting unused unemployment insurance relief funds; repurposing unused relief funds from 2020 emergency relief legislation; state and local investment in broadband infrastructure; allowing states to sell or purchase unused toll credits for infrastructure; extending expiring customs user fees; reinstating superfund fees for chemicals; and 5G spectrum auction proceeds.
President Biden has said that he expects Congress will vote on infrastructure and budget reconciliation before the end of the fiscal year, which is Sept. 30. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has said previously that the House won’t consider the bipartisan deal without a broader package of legislation.
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said in a June 24 press conference that she needs to see the details of the plan “before I can fully embrace this” but was “pleased a bipartisan effort has been successful.” Senate EPW has jurisdiction over infrastructure legislation. The EPW Committee recently advanced its surface transportation reauthorization out of committee.
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