Legislation

July 23, 2021 - Update

Washington Update

prepared by WSP USA

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Senate - Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework

The big story continues to be infrastructure and the flurry of activity underway to advance a comprehensive infrastructure package, which hit a roadblock earlier this week. On Wednesday, July 21, the Senate rejected Majority Leader Schumer's cloture motion to proceed to the consideration of H.R. 3684, the INVEST in America Act. Republicans objected largely because specifics of the Senate package have not been shared nor have the pay-fors. The Senate voted 49-51, falling short of the 60 votes required to proceed to debate. Senator Schumer changed his "yes" vote to "no" so that he can offer a motion to reconsider the matter later.

Despite the setback, there is continuing momentum to find a path forward. While there is still no legislative text available, reportedly the negotiators of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework (BIF) are zeroing in on a more traditional infrastructure package using the legislation passed out of Senate Commerce Committee and the Environment and Public Works Committee as the foundation for the bill. Intense negotiations are ongoing and will continue through the weekend. Sources close to the discussions are optimistic that an agreement may be reached soon - as early as today or Monday. Once a deal is struck, and the Senate votes to proceed with debate, a minimum of two weeks of Senate floor time will be required for consideration of the bill.

There are other new hurdles that have emerged including Senate EPW objections to the level of Water Infrastructure that is under consideration. Several Democratic Senators are citing the variance between the $35 billion water infrastructure bill passed earlier this year and what bipartisan negotiators are providing, eliminating roughly $15 billion of that amount. EPW Chairman Tom Carper (D-DE) insists he will oppose any package that does not fully fund the EPW's approved levels for investment.

The other matter that continues to linger is the outlook for a broader reconciliation package as Speaker Pelosi remains adamant that the House will not proceed to consideration of any bipartisan infrastructure deal without a reconciliation package.

House - INVEST Act

On the other side of Capitol Hill, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) issued a strong statement against Senate efforts and implored his House colleagues to insist upon inclusion of provisions from the House passed INVEST in America Act. Click here for summary of House bill. In a letter to Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Schumer, 30 House T&I Democrats urged inclusion of policies in the House passed INVEST in America Act, as well as member designated projects (earmarks) found on pages 47-180.

House Appropriations

Next week, the House will consider seven Fiscal Year 2022 Appropriations bill including the Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies bill and the Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies bill. Summaries of the committee- passed bills follow.

Energy and Water, and Related Agencies

The Energy and Water bill provides $53.226 billion, an increase of $1.474 billion above 2021. A summary of the bill is here. And these links will take you to the Bill Text and Committee Report.

Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies

The 2022 Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies funding bill provides funding of $84.1 billion, an increase of $8.7 billion - more than 11 percent - above 2021. This includes an increase of $6.8 billion is for the Department of Housing and Urban Development and $1.9 billion for the Department of Transportation. In total, the bill provides $162.6 billion in budgetary resources, an increase of $25.9 billion above 2021. A summary of the bill is here. A list of the Community Project Funding items can be found here. Follow these links to the Bill Text and Committee Report

A full list and summary of all seven of the Appropriations bills being considered can be found here.

House Aviation Subcommittee

The House Aviation Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA), held a hearing focused on diversity and inclusion disparities in the aviation industry: "Bridging the Gap: Improving Diversity and Inclusion in the U.S. Aviation Workforce."

Videos of DeFazio and Larsen's opening statements are here and here, respectively. More information on the topic and the full hearing can be found here.

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held a hearing to examine the potential cybersecurity threats currently facing America's infrastructure. Chairman Tom Carper's (D-DE) statement can be found here. Several witnesses, including ITS America, offered compelling testimony about the risks and vulnerabilities facing vital infrastructure assets. Video of the hearing and copies of the testimony can be found here.

House Education and Labor Committee: Workforce Development

On July 22, House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) hosted a press conference featuring Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, Deputy Secretary of Education Cindy Marten, Education, Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and other representatives from industry all expressing the urgent need to address workforce development and workforce shortages impacting every state in the union and nearly every sector of the economy. The full press conference can be viewed here.

FRA/FTA

The Federal Railroad Administration and Federal Transit Administration announced final environmental actions for the Hudson Tunnel Project and limited claims to challenge these actions published in the Federal Register - link found here. This comes after the FRA and FTA released a final environmental impact statement for the long-delayed passenger-rail tunnel between New York and New Jersey in May.

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