Government Affairs

News from Capitol Hill

This is the latest installment of highlights of PCA’s “This Week in Washington” update. Interested in seeing more? Become an ACPA Advocacy Interest Member.* Advocacy Interest Members are eligible to participate in the Legislative Issues Committee (LIC). Click here to join!

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced the recipients of the most recent round of Airport Improvement Program funding. Specifically, DOT awarded $520.5 million in airport infrastructure grants to 287 airports across the country, ranging from rehabilitating runways to constructing taxiways.

OSHA has re-initiated its National Emphasis Program (NEP) on Respirable Crystalline Silica (RCS), which will increase the agency’s focus and frequency of testing for RCS in particular industries where workers are more likely to be exposed. Several concrete and related applications are targeted. See Appendix A of the OSHA Instruction for the full list of targeted industries. The NEP directs that at least 2 percent of inspections annually shall target RCS. Furthermore, the Office of Inspector General issued a memorandum to OSHA advising that the Inspector General’s office is initiating an audit of the agency’s RCS program.

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* Advocacy Interest Membership is a special individual membership category. To be eligible for membership in this category, a member must be a stockholder, owner, director, or employee of a member admitted to any other class of membership (Article IV, Section a-i, and l). In addition, to become and remain eligible, individuals must affirm their Advocacy Interest Membership annually.

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Transportation Announces $1 in BUILD Grants

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) last Wednesday issued a notice for $1 billion in discretionary grant funding this year through the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) discretionary grants program, according to a DOT press release.

“BUILD grants will upgrade infrastructure across America, making our transportation systems safer and more efficient,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao. DOT intends to award 50% of BUILD Transportation grant funding to projects located in rural areas.

For this round of BUILD Transportation grants, the maximum grant award is $25 million, and no more than $100 million can be awarded to a single State, as specified in the appropriations act.

As the Trump Administration looks to enhance America’s infrastructure, FY 2020 BUILD Transportation grants are for planning and capital investments in surface transportation infrastructure. BUILD funding can support roads, bridges, transit, rail, ports or intermodal transportation.  

This is the second round of BUILD grants announced since November. The previous round, reported in November 2019, provided $900 million in grants.
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Coalition Urges Action on Infrastructure Investment

A coalition of 41 transportation associations (including ACPA), labor unions and highway user organizations* asked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to consider acting further on legislation to reauthorize Federal surface transportation programs, which are set to expire September 30.

The group commended the Senate EPW Committee for taking the critical step of unanimously approving the America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act (ATIA) last summer, and noted the action was well ahead of the expiry date. Citing the work of Senate committees of jurisdiction to develop reauthorization proposals and to provide the necessary revenue to support the programs, the groups asked the Leaders to take up legislation to reauthorize the federal surface transportation programs as soon as possible.

They also cautioned that, “history has demonstrated that delaying action on such legislation leads to two negative outcomes: stifling economic development and construction workers not on job sites.” Click here to read/download the complete letter.

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* The group included the: American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, American Concrete Pavement Association, American Concrete Pipe Association, American Council of Engineering Companies, American Highway Users Alliance, American Iron and Steel Institute, American Moving & Storage Association, American Public Transportation Association, American Public Works Association, American Road & Transportation Builders Association, American Society of Civil Engineers, American Traffic Safety Services Association, Associated Equipment Distributors, Associated Equipment Manufacturers, Associated General Contractors of America, Auto Care Association, Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute, Energy Equipment & Infrastructure Alliance, Equipment Dealers Association, FMI-The Food Industry Association, Governors Highway Safety Association, Industrial Minerals Association—North America, International Union of Operating Engineers, International Warehouse Logistics Association, Laborers International Union of North America, National Asphalt Pavement Association, National Association of Chemical Distributors, National Association of Counties, National Association of County Engineers, National Association of Truckstop Operators, National Electrical Contractors Association, National Ready Mixed Concrete Association, National Steel Bridge Alliance, National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association, National Tank Carriers, Inc., North America’s Building Trades Unions, Portland Cement Association, Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute, Transport Workers Union of America, Transportation Intermediaries Association, Transportation Trades Department-AFL-CIO, and U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Follow this link to see ACPA’s government affairs repository.

Administration Announces $1 Trillion Investment Plan

The Trump Administration on Monday released its 2021 budget request, and within it, has proposed $1 trillion in infrastructure investment over the next decade.

This investment package has two major components. The first would be an $810 billion, 10-year reauthorization of surface transportation programs.

The proposal includes $602 billion for highway infrastructure and other transportation investments. This represents approximately a 12% increase over 2020-plus-inflation spending levels. According to estimates by Eno Center for Transportation, about $263 billion in additional revenues over currently enacted amounts would be necessary to keep the Trust Fund solvent over that period.  

The President’s proposal also includes $16 billion for Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loans and Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grants. TIFIA loans and BUILD grants can be used for road construction, as well as other infrastructure needs. The plan also includes $155 billion for transit; $20 billion for traffic and motor carrier safety; $17 billion for rail; and almost $1 billion for pipeline and hazardous materials safety.

A Second Component
A second major component of the President’s plan is an additional $190 billion in investments across a range of infrastructure sectors, including water and broadband. The Budget proposes that this funding be allocated to several programs, including some with highway and bridge investment potential. They include: 

  • $60 billion for a new Building Infrastructure Great grants program. The program would accelerate core infrastructure “mega-projects,” which are prone to excessive delays. This program will accelerate delivery of such projects across a range of sectors, including surface transportation investments, among others.
  • $50 billion for a new Moving America’s Freight Safely and Efficiently program. This program will support projects with significant economic, mobility, and safety benefits to the nation’s strategic highways and other networks. The aim is to open bottlenecks and improve safety by, for example, adding capacity, deploying effective technologies, and expanding truck parking infrastructure.
  • $35 billion for a new Bridge Rebuilding program. This program will make targeted investments in critical bridge infrastructure to restore them to good condition. The plan calls for $12 billion for “off system” bridges and $23 billion for larger bridges.

The impact of these investments will be amplified by the permitting reforms put in place since the beginning of this Administration, including the “One Federal Decision” policy, which we reported on January 15. In announcing the program, the Administration says they look forward to working with Congress to enact these programs.

Two weeks ago, three Democratic Committee chairs unveiled a vision for a five-year, $760 billion infrastructure investment framework, which we reported on January 31. ACPA is encouraged by both the Administration and Congress’ focus on infrastructure investment. Although it’s too early to tell whether a bill is likely to be signed into law during this election year, these measures are positive steps in the direction of reauthorization either this year or next.  Click here to see background and additional details about the Administration’s infrastructure proposal.
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HMG Discusses Highway Legislation and More

The Highway Materials Group met this week to discuss several promising legislative initiatives, as well as to map out plans to inform and persuade Members of Congress on issues of mutual importance to the industry.

HMG members heard an update on the House Democrat Infrastructure Framework Announcement (first reported in ACPA TODAY on January 31.)  Group members also discussed a recent House Ways & Means Infrastructure Finance Hearing.

Also on the agenda were the topic of letters on recent actions on a number of policy issues including resilience, material neutrality, passenger facilities charges, hours of service, etc.  A Capitol Hill briefing addressed the members associations’ concerns about the need for surface action and concern of short-term extensions/inactivity, which led to a discussion about an action plan for 2020.

The group also discussed several issues related to the America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act (ATIA), which provides $287 billion in contract authority over five years beginning at the expiration of the FAST Act on September 30, 2020.  Click here to see our original report on the ATIA.

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The Highway Materials Group is comprised of eleven national associations, representing companies that provide the construction materials and equipment essential to building America’s roads, highways and bridges. The HMG associations’ members employ tens of thousands of men and women in well-paying American jobs, and support increased investment in America’s surface transportation network.  Members include: American Coal Ash Association; America Concrete Pavement Association; American Traffic Safety Services Association; Associated Equipment Distributors; Association of Equipment Manufacturers; Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute; National Asphalt Pavement Association; National Ready Mixed Concrete Association; National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association; Portland Cement Association; and Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute.

Follow this link to see ACPA’s government affairs repository.

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