Government Affairs

Perspectives on the $2T Infrastructure Plan

The President and Congressional leaders met yesterday to discuss infrastructure, and insiders report the meeting was constructive and focused on working together to develop an infrastructure bill valued at $2 trillion, according to the American Highway Users Alliance (AHUA).  An infrastructure could include a long-term highway reauthorization bill.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) expressed positive comments about the meeting, with Sen. Schumer saying “there was goodwill” on both sides toward developing a major piece of legislation, according to a report by THE HILL, which added  Speaker Pelosi said both sides had “come to one agreement: that the agreement would be big and bold.”There is no information or agreement on how the parties expect the bill to be funded. Although the Administration will rely on Congress to draft the legislation and will not be drafting its own detailed proposal, there was reportedly some regret within the Administration over their 2017 proposal that relied heavily upon public-private partnerships and leverage as the primary source of funding for infrastructure, AHUA says. In addition to President Donald Trump, Secretary Elaine Chao and National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow were among the senior-level Administration attendees present.

Although details are limited, the characterization of the meeting being cordial and constructive is important. Had the meeting been a disaster, it would have likely doomed any progress on infrastructure or highways this year. Instead, there is some potential bipartisan momentum that could energize the process, AHUA says.

Shortly after the meeting, Speaker Pelosi and Minority Leader Schumer issued a joint statement, saying, “Building America’s infrastructure is about creating jobs immediately, and also bolstering the commerce it facilitates, advancing public health with clean air and clean water, and improving the safety of our transportation system, and addressing climate change with clean energy, clean transportation and resilient infrastructure. 

“We are pleased the President agreed to include a major investment in expanding broadband to rural, urban and other underserved areas to deliver broadband’s benefits for education, health care and commerce,” they say. “We have an historic opportunity to build infrastructure for the future, and an urgency to address the safety needs that our crumbling infrastructure represents.  Every congressional district in America has urgent needs, which any big and bold initiative must address.”

Also commenting on the meeting yesterday was House Transportation & Infrastructure Chairman Peter DeFazio.  “Today’s meeting with the White House was a big step in the right direction in our work to develop a robust, bipartisan plan for infrastructure investment,” he says, adding, “Two trillion dollars is a significant federal investment that could make a real difference in communities across this country, whether we’re talking roads, bridges, and transit systems, or harbors, airports and wastewater systems, just to name a few areas that would get a real boost from a bipartisan deal.

“I’m encouraged to hear the widespread agreement on the need to act on infrastructure—and to act soon— and I look forward to continuing this critical conversation with the White House and House and Senate leadership in the coming weeks,” he adds.

At the time of this writing, there was no corresponding statement regarding the meeting by the White House or Congressional Republicans, although some party members, including Rep. Greg Pence (R-IN-06), did express support in social media posts.  The WASHINGTON POST reports that “Congressional leaders said they will return to the White House in three weeks to determine how to pay for it.”

Transportation-construction, labor, and other advocacy groups will continue to advance positions on the Highway Trust Fund, funding mechanisms, and other key provisions in support of the highway bill, and more broadly, on infrastructure investment. 

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Photo:  The Hill

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ACPA Participates in Environmental Streamlining Forum

When the current highway bill* was enacted, it contained a provision that created FAST-41,** a new governance structure, set of procedures, and funding authorities to improve the Federal environmental review and authorization process for covered infrastructure projects.

The first annual Stakeholders Engagement Forum was held yesterday at the General Services Administration headquarters in Washington, DC.  The event provided officials with the opportunity to provide an overview of the FAST 41 structure, as well as to showcase the resources and services offered by the GSA’s federal Permitting Council, which has the role of streamlining the review and authorization of environmental permitting on large scale, complex infrastructure projects throughout the country. 

The Permitting Council is comprised of members of 14 Federal agencies, the Council on Environmental Quality, and the Officce of Management and Budget. 

Leif Wathne of ACPA was present for the discussions and gained insights into the scope of the Permitting Council, as well as the scale of projects, which may be eligible to be covered under FAST-41 if they meet several criteria, including requiring investment of $200M or more.  ACPA will continue to track the Permitting Council’s activities to assess applicability to ACPA members, including benefits to transportation agencies across the country.

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Photo:  Alex Hergott, Executive Director of the GSA’s Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council, presents remarks at the first annual Stakeholders Engagement Forum.

*  Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act of 2015
** FAST 41 refers to the current surface transportation and Title 41, which covers public contracts and related topics. 

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ACPA Social Media Spotlights Infrastructure Investment

Ahead of and following the pivotal meeting among Congressional leaders and President Donald Trump, ACPA and other advocacy groups turned to social media (notably Twitter and Facebook) to build awareness and inform public officials and others of the critical importance of infrastructure investment. 

Also this week, working with information supplied by Will Wilkins and Lisa Templeton of The Road Information Program, ACPA launched a week-long social media campaign aimed at informing and increasing awareness about the links between highway investments and the economic development, jobs, safety and overall highway and bridge conditions. 

The campaign will continue through Friday, and ACPA is inviting members, chapters and allies to join the discussion.  We have prepared preformatted messages (optimized for Twitter) and easily adaptable to Facebook, LinkedIn, and other channels.  To join the dialogue, click on the Twitter and Facebook links above, or alternatively, cut & paste messages from the special web page at:  http://www.acpa.org/join-the-discussion/.  Questions or comments?  Please contact Bill Davenport (847.423.8703 or bdavenport@acpa.org).

Democratic Leaders to Discuss Infrastructure with President Trump

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA-12) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) will meet with President Donald Trump next week to discuss infrastructure, according to a story in POLITICO this morning.  

The meeting will take place on Tuesday, April 30, at 10:30 a.m., the story reported, citing a senior Democratic aide. Pelosi is said to have requested the meeting during a phone conversation with the President on April 4.  

The transportation-construction industry, along with many others, will be eager to learn the outcome of the meeting, which if newsworthy, will be reported to ACPA members. Also today, ACPA and other transportation-construction industry leaders are particularly active on social media, calling for infrastructure investment and underscoring the urgent need to focus on highways, bridges and other surface transportation infrastructure. 

Click here to read the full story by POLITICO.

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Photo credit: Andrew Harnik/AP Photo for POLITICO.

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

NACA Fly-In Soars to New Heights (Part 2)

As we reported last week, the third-annual North American Concrete Alliance* fly-in reached new heights with industry participation, an excellent program, and engagement by Federal government officials. 

In all, more than 140 participants representing 12 cement and concrete trade associations came to Washington to represent the industry. Speakers from nine federal agencies and Administration offices included the U.S. DOT, FHWA, The White House and the Office of the Vice President.

Officials included James Redstone, Special Assistant to the President, White House Domestic Policy Council; Phillip Pinegar, Domestic Policy Advisor for the Office of the Vice President; Paul Teller, Special Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs; and Brandye Hendrickson, Acting Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration.

From Congress, 11 U.S. Representatives and three Senators presented remarks during the two-day event.  From the House, featured speakers included Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-MO), House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee; Ranking Member Lloyd Smucker (R-PA-11), House Education & Labor Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Investment; and Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL-3), member of the T&I Committee and 2018 Cement & Concrete Champion. Other T&I Committee members also spoke during the event. 

From the Senate side, EPW Chairman (and 2016 Cement and Concrete Champion) John Barrasso (R-WY); Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Chair of the Senate EPW Infrastructure Subcommittee and 2019 Cement and Concrete Champion; and Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), also with the Senate EPW Committee.  

The event also included issues-specific sessions that covered some of the cement and concrete industry’s highest priorities.  In addition to the presentations and discussions, the attendees also visited Capitol Hill to discuss funding and other topics. In all, 14 small teams attended more than 160 meetings on Capitol Hill and spoke with officials from an estimated 30% of Congressional offices.  

Among the discussion topics were highway reauthorization, the highway trust fund, resiliency, truck weights, LCCA, and airfield pavement research to name a few. 


Photo: 
(L-R) ACPA Legislative Issues Committee Chairman Dan Rozycki (The Transtec Group) discusses infrastructure investment with Paul Teller, Special Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs, during the NACA Fly-In cocktail reception and opening dinner. (Photo courtesy of PCA.)

Editor’s note:  Information for this story was provided by Rachel Derby, PCA.

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The North American Concrete Alliance is a coalition of 12 concrete-related associations formed in 2004 for the purpose of addressing industry-wide concerns and initiatives in the areas of research, safety, education, and government affairs. The coalition is comprised of the American Concrete Pavement Association, American Concrete Pipe Association, American Concrete Pressure Pipe Association, American Concrete Pumping Association, Concrete Foundations Association, Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute, National Concrete Masonry Association, National Precast Concrete Association, National Ready Mixed Concrete Association, Portland Cement Association, Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute, and Tilt-Up Concrete Association.

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