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Second delayed infrastructure vote causing industry angst

By |  November 1, 2021
Michele Stanley

Stanley

Construction materials industry leaders expressed their disappointment over the U.S. House of Representatives once again delaying a vote on the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act (IIJA).

In a related move, Congress temporarily extended the nation’s surface transportation programs for a second time – this time through Dec. 3 – following the expiration of a FAST Act extension that ran out at September’s end.

“We are once again extremely disappointed that politics in the House continues to hold hostage a bipartisan infrastructure bill that the American people are yearning for and our nation desperately needs,” says Michele Stanley, vice president of government and regulatory affairs at the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (NSSGA). “We call on all members of the House to put their petty differences aside and vote on the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act.”

Audrey Copeland, president and CEO of the National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA), issued a similar call to Congress.

“The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act of 2021 would inject $550 billion into surface transportation infrastructure, an increase of 55 percent over current levels, providing a predictable funding stream for improving the safety and efficiency of highways, roads and bridges across the country,” Copeland says. “NAPA’s government affairs team will continue to make the case in Washington that the time for investment is now and will directly contribute to our nation’s prosperity.”

More reaction

Stephen Sandherr, CEO of the Associated General Contractors of America, reacted similarly to the House’s latest delayed vote on infrastructure.

“It is extremely disappointing that some progressive Democrats and the Republican leadership would again delay passage of a much-needed infrastructure bill,” Sandherr says. “This legislation will provide investments that will make our fragile supply chains more efficient, while providing a needed boost to economic growth and employment levels.

“Sadly, too many members of Congress opted to put partisan politics above the needs of their constituents,” Sandherr adds. “The short-term victim may be the president’s legislative agenda, but the longer-term victim is our economy, quality of life and ability to compete in the global marketplace.”

The Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act is, of course, still alive in the House. But industry leaders are growing frustrated after the House delayed voting on infrastructure twice in five weeks.

“The infrastructure bill cleared the Senate almost three months ago with 69 bipartisan votes, and the question today is not whether votes can be secured to support IIJA, [but] rather what can some members of Congress get in return for their vote before casting it,” Stanley says. “The infrastructure bill could pass today if House members voted their convictions rather than their politics. NSSGA will not stop advocating for the House to pass the IIJA before we are faced with another dire deadline that damages our economy and the livelihoods of Americans.”

Photos: Jeff Gray, Paul McLaren, Matt Lepp, George Reddin, David Jones, Dan Johnson, Justin Melott, Don Moore, Hal Williford, Pat Jacomet, Ross Duff, Scott Alexander and John Garrison

Reddin

George Reddin, managing director at FMI Capital Advisors, recalls that a number of construction materials industry advocates expected an infrastructure bill to pass in 2017, but that event ultimately did not come to fruition.

“Here we are four, four-and-a-half years later, and we’re still waiting for it,” Reddin says.

Reddin argues that there’s reason to be optimistic about this bill, though.

“Obviously, if we don’t get it, that’s going to be troubling,” he says. “We saw what happened in between 2009 and 2015 when we had one continuing resolution after another coming out of the 2008-09 recession. But, I think, everyone is more optimistic today that we’re getting one. But we’ve kind of been saying that for the last year or two. We’re cautiously optimistic.”

Featured photo: P&Q Staff


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