Senate passes $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, advances vote to House

By Hannah Sundermeyer and Riley SimpsonAugust 10, 2021

The U.S. Senate passed the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill by a vote of 69-30 (Photo courtesy of Reuters)

After many months of negotiations, the U.S. Senate finally gave bipartisan approval for the $1.2-trillion infrastructure bill, following a 69-30 vote, set to repair roads, bridges, airports and waterways across the nation.

“Big news, folks: The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal has officially passed the Senate,” President Joe Biden said on Twitter on Tuesday. “I hope Congress will send it to my desk as soon as possible so we can continue our work of building back better.”

The deal calls for investment of $110 billion for roads, bridges and major infrastructure projects, $73 billion in upgrading aging power infrastructure, $65 billion in broadband infrastructure for high-speed internet and $66 billion for rail maintenance and modernization.

Also included is $40 billion for bridge repair, replacement and rehabilitation. The White House says it would be the single, largest dedicated bridge investment since the construction of the interstate highway system, which started in the 1950s.

The deal also contains $17.5 billion for major projects that would be too large or complex for traditional funding programs.

The bill will now go to the House of Representatives before Biden can sign it into law. The House is likely on break until the fall.

The construction industry responds to the Senate passing the infrastructure bill

Kip Eideberg, senior vice president of government and industry relations at Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), which owns and produces CONEXPO-CON/AGG trade show, praised the legislation.

“The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is not only a once-in-a-generation opportunity to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure, but an opportunity to restore our economic competitiveness, enhance equipment manufacturers’ ability to meet the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century, and improve the lives of all Americans,” Eideberg said.

AEM recently released a study that shows new potential infrastructure investments made by Congress over the next several years could create more than 100,000 family-sustaining equipment manufacturing jobs and nearly 500,000 U.S. manufacturing jobs overall.

“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,” said Michael Bellaman, president and CEO of Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC).

Bellaman did add some criticism of the infrastructure bill’s expansion of prevailing wage and support for “misleading ‘buy American’ and ‘local hire’ requirements,” which he said could affect the ultimate success of the legislation.

“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,” Bellaman said.

National Governors Association (NGA) Chairman Governor Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas and Vice Chairman Governor Phil Murphy released a satement commending senators from both political parties for adopting key improvements and voting to advance the bill.

“We now call on the House of Representatives to take action as quickly as possible and send this critical legislation to the President’s desk so that states and territories can deploy these crucial infrastructure funds,” the NGA statement said.

And Doug Carlson, CEO of the National Utility Contractors Association (NUCA), said the vote delivered on a long-sought NUCA legislative goal.

“This bill is a significant milestone for our nation,” Carlson said. “The infrastructure bill delivers historic levels of funding for water infrastructure and lead pipe service line replacement. This is welcome news for thousands of American communities and millions of our citizens. [It] is an extraordinary achievement, and the Senate should be thanked for their hard work. This bill is a big win for NUCA members.”

Addressing Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Carlson said, “we’re ready to start our backhoes and begin digging — let’s get this bill passed and send it to the President.”

This feature included material provided by Reuters.

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