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Industry reaction mixed to House’s $1.5T infrastructure bill

By |  July 1, 2020

The U.S. House of Representatives passed an infrastructure bill Wednesday that drew mixed reaction from leaders in and around the construction materials industry.

The Moving Forward Act (H.R. 2) invests $1.5 trillion in the nation’s infrastructure, but the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) warns that the package does more to help special interests than solve project needs.

AGC reacts

AGCA

“House Democratic leaders rightly understand the scope of the nation’s infrastructure challenges, and the suggested funding levels in their infrastructure measure could lead to significant and much-needed improvements,” says Stephen Sandherr, CEO of AGC. “However, virtually every meaningful infrastructure legislation that has been enacted in the past 65 years has enjoyed broad bipartisan, bicameral support.”

According to Sandherr, it’s clear by the 233-188 vote measure of the Moving Forward Act that the bill does not have the same widespread support as its predecessors.

“One reason is that many of the measure’s provisions do more to accommodate the wishes of special interests than solve infrastructure needs,” Sandherr says. “This could undermine the bill’s ability to boost employment and needed economic growth.”

Sandherr hopes the vote at least represents the start of a process to craft a measure that garners support across both parties and both chambers of Congress.

“The end goal should be enacting a measure that will have the largest possible impact on improving the nation’s aging and overburdened infrastructure,” Sandherr says.

AED reacts

Photo: AED logo

The Associated Equipment Distributors (AED) also met the infrastructure package with some dismay. But the organization is a proponent of spurring action by the U.S. Senate and ultimately ensuring a bill reaches the president’s desk.

“The House infrastructure proposal is commendable in certain areas, including its funding levels, but it also contains many concerning provisions that would impose unnecessary mandates when Congress should be looking to reduce regulatory burdens and expedite project delivery,” says Brian McGuire, president and CEO of AED. “While there’s a great deal not to like both in substance about H.R. 2 and the excessively partisan process taken by House leadership, the House did its job and passed an infrastructure bill. The time is long overdue for the Senate to take similar action and approve legislation to provide long-term, robust infrastructure investments.”

NSSGA reacts

Logo: NSSGA

The National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (NSSGA) was encouraged by the bill’s passage, as well.

“This is a mammoth $1.5 trillion infrastructure package, which includes $319 billion in desperately needed funding for our highways and bridges,” says Michael Johnson, president and CEO of NSSGA. “Rebuilding America’s infrastructure is a nonpartisan concern and should be a bipartisan effort to work on a solution.”

NSSGA, which continues to review the bill’s many provisions, was pleased to see the ROCKS Act included in the bill. The ROCKS Act will ensure communities are able to access essential construction materials, NSSGA says, leading to improved environmental outcomes and better utilization of taxpayer dollars to build infrastructure.

“NSSGA will continue to work with Congressional stakeholders on both sides of the aisle to advance sound and effective infrastructure policies,” Johnson says. “It is imperative that Congress take action on much-needed infrastructure investment, which is critical for job creation and economic growth.”

AEM reacts

Logo: AEM

The Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) met the bill with a similar reaction.

“Passage of H.R. 2, the Moving Forward Act, is an important step in reauthorizing our federal surface transportation program,” says Dennis Slater, AEM president. “AEM has long supported the development of a comprehensive infrastructure package, one that makes much-needed investments in our roads, highways, bridges, waterways and broadband networks. We commend the U.S. House of Representatives for staying focused on the looming expiration of the 2015 FAST Act, and the opportunity before us to leverage infrastructure investment as a means to support economic recovery efforts during the coronavirus pandemic.

“H.R. 2 lays down a strong marker for much-needed, long-term investment in our nation’s infrastructure, and AEM will continue support this process as it moves forward,” Slater adds.

The Trump administration reacts

The Trump administration, for its part, reacted to the introduction of the Moving Forward Act with resistance, although it reiterated its interest in improving the nation’s infrastructure.

“This bill is problematic for several reasons,” the Trump administration says in a statement. “It is heavily biased against rural America. It also appears to be entirely debt-financed. And it fails to tackle the issue of unnecessary permitting delays, which are one of the most significant impediments to improving our infrastructure.

The statement continues: “Instead of taking a balanced approach that would benefit more Americans, H.R. 2 is full of wasteful ‘Green New Deal’ initiatives that would impede economic growth and impose unnecessary mandates, hindering innovation and driving up costs for the American people.”

The House Speaker reacts

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) also issued a statement, following the House’s passage of the Moving Forward Act.

“H.R. 2 takes bold, broad and transformational action to rebuild our infrastructure, while addressing key injustices in America, which have been laid bare by the COVID-19 crisis,” Pelosi says in a statement. “We are proud that this legislation addresses environmental justice, including by investing boldly in affordable housing, expanding affordable high-speed Internet to underserved rural and urban communities, and ensuring that all have access to clean water.

“H.R. 2 makes a strong down payment in a clean energy future and solving the climate crisis, as we create millions of good-paying jobs and rebuild our highways, bridges, transit, rail, airports, ports and harbors to improve safety, reduce gridlock and put America on a path to zero pollution,” Pelosi adds.

Kevin Yanik

About the Author:

Kevin Yanik is editor-in-chief of Pit & Quarry. He can be reached at 216-706-3724 or kyanik@northcoastmedia.net.

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