Government Affairs

ASCE Report Examines COVID-19 Infrastructure Impact

An ASCE status report outlines the COVID-19 pandemic’s “detrimental effects” on a broad swath of publicly-owned U.S. infrastructure assets, including airports and roads.

The report, “COVID-19’s Impacts on America’s Infrastructure,” also notes that municipal and state budgets have had to “re-prioritize spending” due to falling tax and fee revenues, reducing fiscal support for parks, schools, and other publicly owned infrastructure. Examples include a projected 30% revenue decline in the next 18 months for state DOTs across the country and an estimated $23.3 billion loss in airport revenue due to a 95 percent decline in domestic air travel.

ASCE’s report also provides several fiscal options to help those infrastructure systems recover from the pandemic. A few of the proposals include:

  • Providing $50 billion in immediate short-term relief for state DOTs so that bridges, roads, and transit systems may remain safe and reliable, a similar request to Congress championed by ACPA and other organizations.
  • Providing $10 billion to mitigate the pandemic’s growing impacts on the nation’s airports, in addition to the $10 billion in relief issued via the in the $2 trillion CARES Act.
  • Passing a multi-year surface transportation reauthorization bill that addresses the solvency of the Highway Trust Fund before the current surface transportation authorization expires on September 30.

“Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, our nation’s infrastructure was already in a crisis,” says K.N. “Guna” Gunalan, ASCE’s president. Emphasizing the critical need for increased funding, he adds, “Each American household was already losing at least $3,400 each year in disposable income due to poor and outdated roads, bridges, electric grid, water systems and more-systems that are critical to the public’s health, safety and welfare.”

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House Appropriations Schedule Set

The 12 U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittees will consider the bills funding the federal government for Fiscal Year 2021 during the week of July 6, according to Josh Reiner of PCA’s Government Affairs Team.

The Interior-Environment (I&E) Subcommittee, which funds the Environmental Protection Agency will hold its markup on July 7 at 11:00 am. Later that day, Energy and Water (E&W), which funds the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, will hold its markup at 3:00 pm. The Transportation and Housing and Urban Development Subcommittee (THUD), which funds the Department of Transportation, will hold its on July 8 at 11:00 am. The full Committee will hold consideration of I&E and E&W on July 10. They have not yet announced when THUD’s will be.

While the specific bills are unlikely to become law, they serve as a benchmark for how Congress views the various programs at federal agencies. The Committee is expected to release the text of these bills about a day before the markups. The Senate Appropriations Committee has not yet announced its schedule, Josh writes in PCA’s THIS WEEK IN WASHINGTON report.

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Transportation Department to Issue Funding for Infrastructure in 20 States

The U.S. Department of Transportation says it plans to issue $906 million to fund 20 projects in 20 states via its Infrastructure for Rebuilding America or INFRA discretionary grant program; funds being funneled largely through state departments of transportation, according to AASHTO.

The agency says that applications for this round of INFRA grant program funding— established by the 2015 Fixing America’s Surface Transportation or FAST Act— were evaluated by a team of more than two dozen and selected based on “established criteria to align them with national and regional economic vitality goals.”

The agency noted that Congress will have 60 days to review USDOT proposed awards and after the 60-day review period, USDOT is free to begin obligating funding.

The agency added that 53 percent of this round of proposed INFRA grants will be awarded to rural projects, with six awards totaling $293 million being made to projects that are at least partially located in an Opportunity Zone, while several other projects are located in areas near Opportunity Zones. Click here to see some of the largest projects identified in this round of funding.

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Legislative Issues Steering Committee Meeting Recap

The inaugural meeting of the Legislative Issues Steering Committee (LISC) yesterday focused on establishing ground rules for the group, which plans to meet quarterly – or more frequently if legislative activities warrant discussion.

Led by Co-Chairs Dan Rozycki (The Transtec Group) and Robert Seghetti (ACME Concrete Paving), the LISC will focus on public policy issues; highway and airport authorization and appropriation bills; industry-specific regulatory matters; the ACPA Political Action Committee; and other related topics.

During the meeting, Leif Wathne (staff liaison) provided a brief overview of COVID legislation to date (including the CARES Act and HEROES Act). He also summarized highway-related legislation, including the Senate EPW-passed ATIA, House T&I-passed INVEST, the House minority-introduced STARTER act, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s large infrastructure package (Moving America Act) introduced last week. He added that details of these various legislative packages (CARES, HEROES, ATIA, INVEST) have been presented in our ACPA Today newsletter, where all our government affairs updates are currently shared.

Leif concluded his remarks by saying that “without decisive and bipartisan action by Congress in the next several weeks, it is unlikely that we will see highway legislation enacted before expiry of the FAST Act in September.” He added that a one or maybe two-year extension are possible alternatives and said the full highway bill would then have to be worked out in the 117th Congress. The meeting concluded with remarks from Co-Chairs Rozycki and Seghetti thanking the steering committee participants for committing their time and talent toward this effort.

Participants in the inaugural meeting included: Steve Ambrose, GCC; Sarah Bazey, SIMPLEX; Patrick Cleary, LafargeHolcim; Steve Jackson, Cedar Valley Corp. Inc., LLC; Toby Knott, Lehigh Hanson, Inc.; Bob Leonard, GOMACO Corp.; Mike Lipps, Duit Holdings; Ben Robuck, CEMEX; Dan Rozycki, The Transtec Group; Robert Seghetti, Acme Concrete Paving, Inc. and Leif Wathne, American Concrete Pavement Association.

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House Majority Releases Infrastructure Bill Language

U.S. House Democratic Leaders yesterday released the text of The Moving Forward Act, a Transformational Infrastructure Bill to Create Jobs and Rebuild America (H.R. 2).

The announcement came after a 24-hour, two-day markup process for The INVEST in America Act, which effectively became a provision of The Moving Forward Act, according to AHUA.  For more information, click here to see our coverage of The INVEST in America act.

The structure of the bill remains intact, AHUA says. It is a five-year authorization, and includes increases in funding faster than the rate of inflation; however, the rates of increase for transit and rail programs are faster than for the highway program.

The Moving Forward Act will invest in our nation’s infrastructure, including roads, bridges, transit, rail, schools, housing, broadband, drinking and wastewater systems, postal service, clean energy sector, health care infrastructure, and more.

The more than $1.5 trillion proposal is aimed at rebuilding U.S. communities with infrastructure and innovation that is smarter, safer, and made to last. Of particular interest to the concrete pavement industry are the following provisions:

  • (Inclusion of) The INVEST in America Act, a nearly $500 billion investment to rebuild and reimagine the nation’s transportation infrastructure. ACPA’s summary of the INVEST in America Act can be found here.
  • Promotion of investments in our communities by spurring private investment through the tax code, through a revitalized Build America Bonds program, expansions of Private Activity Bonds, and significant enhancements to the New Markets Tax Credit and the Rehabilitation Tax Credit.

In a press release issued yesterday, the House Democrats say the Act “marks a transformational investment in American infrastructure that will create millions of jobs, take bold action on the climate crisis, and address disparities in urban, suburban, and rural communities across our country.”

Joining T&I Committee Chair Peter DeFazio (D-OR) were other Leaders, including Education and Labor Committee Chair Robert Scott (D-VA); Financial Services Committee Chair Maxine Waters (D-CA): Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ): Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard E. Neal (D-MA); Oversight and Reform Committee Chair Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY); and Natural Resources Committee Chair Raúl Grijalva.  To read more about the act, click here to download a fact sheet.

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