On Aug. 10, the U.S. Senate passed the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act with bipartisan support in a 69-30 vote, with 19 Republicans joining all 50 senators in the Democratic caucus to approve the legislation.
The IIJA provides approximately $1.2 trillion, including $550 billion in new spending, for physical infrastructure investments throughout the country, including $110 billion for roads, bridges and major projects; $66 billion for passenger and freight rail; $65 billion for broadband infrastructure; $55 billion for water infrastructure; $39 billion for public transit; $25 billion for airport improvements and $16.6 billion for ports and waterways.
The bipartisan deal includes the ABC supported, bipartisan Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act passed earlier this year by the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. This reauthorization provides a 34% increase in federal funding for the nation’s transportation infrastructure and includes hard-fought provisions to expedite the federal permitting process for construction projects and supports workforce development opportunities for hardworking Americans.
Prior to the passage of the bill, ABC highlighted its priorities and the wins included in the bill as well as concerns with several labor provisions and potential executive action from the White House. Of note, as the Senate considered the bill, ABC strongly advocated for fair and open competition, which resulted in no government-mandated project labor agreement language in the legislation.
ABC remained neutral on the legislation, neither opposing nor supporting the bill. After the bill passed in the Senate, ABC President and CEO Mike Bellaman issued a statement noting the bipartisan accomplishments of the bill while raising concerns about its implementation should it be signed into law and actions the administration has signaled it could take to limit participation from merit shop contractors.
“This infrastructure package contains the most significant investment in our nation’s infrastructure in a generation and could yield crucial wins for the American people and construction industry,” Bellaman said. “President Biden and his administration must refrain from partisan favoritism in awarding contracts and commit to ensuring all of America’s construction industry can participate in the important work of modernizing the nation’s infrastructure.”
While the bill passed the Senate, it is not guaranteed to pass the House, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi D-Calif., continues to insist on pairing the consideration of the bipartisan IIJA with the partisan budget reconciliation, which Senate Democrats also passed on Aug. 10.
Notably, Speaker Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., have informed House members that they will be returning from their August recess early, on Aug. 23, after previously scheduling the House to return on Sept. 20. However, the House now plans to return to Washington, D.C., to start work on their portion of the partisan $3.5 trillion budget resolution as well as considering H.R. 4, the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. House Democrats could also consider additional legislation; however, they do not appear to be poised to take up the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act for final passage until the reconciliation package is finished later this fall.