Chances of passing a new bill on infrastructure spending have increased this week after President Joe Biden and a bipartisan group of US senators found common ground. But the journey to real nationwide investment in roads, bridges and other infrastructure is far from over.
âConversations are taking place because there is a real need for infrastructure (spending) without a doubt. But this is one step in a long series of steps that must be taken, âDavid Heller, vice president of government affairs for Truck Transport Association, Told Fleet owner. “This is a supposed bill and whether or not it gets done is still a guess.”
As Biden and some senators agreed on the baseline framework of $ 973 billion in infrastructure spending over the next five years – with an additional $ 236 billion over the next three years – the administration Ties the president’s approval to other spending Biden called “human infrastructure.”
These “human infrastructure” spending would include tax increases and money to fight climate change, support for child care, education and other social programs the Senate could. to go through the process of budgetary reconciliation, which would only need the support of the Democrats.
White House“Both must be completed, and I will be working closely with President Pelosi and Chief Schumer to ensure that both move swiftly and in tandem through the legislative process,” Biden told reporters on June 24. “Let me stress that: and in tandem. We need physical infrastructure, but we also need human infrastructure. They are part of my overall plan. What we agreed on today. Yeah, that’s what we could agree on: physical infrastructure. There was no agreement on the rest. We will have to do that as part of the budget process.
The bipartite infrastructure framework includes $ 312 billion in new transportation spending, including $ 109 billion for âroads, bridges, major projectsâ. It also provides funds for public transit ($ 49 billion), passenger and freight rail transport ($ 66 billion), electric vehicle infrastructure ($ 7.5 billion), airports (25 billion dollars) billion dollars) and ports and waterways (16 billion dollars).
According to a White House Fact Sheet, the bipartite deal would be funded by a combination of closing the tax gap, redirecting unspent COVID-19 relief funds, targeted business user fees, and “the macroeconomic impact of investments in infrastructure “.
No support from the Highway Trust Fund
The White House called the deal “the biggest dedicated bridge investment since the construction of the interstate highway system.” It would also create an infrastructure finance authority that “would mobilize billions of dollars in clean transportation and clean energy.”
But the deal does not include an increase in the fuel tax or the tax on the use of electric vehicles that could support the Highway Trust Fund, which Heller finds disappointing for the trucking industry. Biden did not want any increase in fuel taxes, which he said would hurt the middle class and low-income families.
Heller noted that the plan is âone-time dollars. This is not a self-sufficient mechanism that the Highway Trust Fund would be with an increase in the fuel tax.
But is it better to spend on infrastructure than not to spend? Heller said he “wouldn’t go that far.”
“It’s not about whether a deal is better than no deal at all,” Heller said the morning after the bipartisan deal was struck. âYou need the right deal. And the jury is still out on whether something like this is really happening. Of course, this is one step among many that must be taken and which is linked to a whole bunch of different things. “
Along with the âhuman infrastructureâ part of Biden’s plan that he wants to pass in tandem with this bipartisan infrastructure deal, Congress is currently working on a new law on land transport who would replace the FAST 2015 law which expires this fall. The new bill, which is making its way through committees in both houses of Congress, is priced at $ 303.5 billion.
âThere is a confluence of big bills that are certainly all intertwined and all linked,â Heller noted. “One will definitely affect the others.”
How does trucking benefit?
The most important trucking benefit of the Surface Transportation Bill and the Biparty Infrastructure Bill is improved roads and bridges, Heller said. âIt’s the only thing we desperately need. We need a solution to our infrastructure â our physical infrastructure like roads and bridges, which is the traditional definition of infrastructure. It’s the trucking thing in there. But there’s nothing in there that specifically emphasizes trucking in a way, but the aspect of roads and bridges is what interests us the most.
Heller noted that at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, with many Americans staying at home and driving less, trucking thrived with less congestion on the roads. And despite special federal waivers that would have allowed drivers more flexible hours of service rules during the pandemic, many fleets did not need the extra time because the traffic was so light.
“If we fix our infrastructure, get better lanes, get more lanes, congestion is reduced, and we can actually travel more efficiently on our roads today, it helps the industry move goods efficiently with capacity. as limited as it is today, “he said. .
Recent bridge failures (a pedestrian bridge over a major thoroughfare in Washington, DC, and the closure of an Interstate 40 bridge that crosses the Mississippi River) have shown just how infrastructure American is fragile. âHow much is it costing the industry because our infrastructure has collapsed? Heller asked. âIf they can solve and prevent these problems, we can move freight efficiently and productively. “