Construction industry reacts to U.S. House finally passing $1 trillion infrastructure bill
By Andy Brown and Riley SimpsonNovember 10, 2021
After the U.S. House of Representatives voted 228-206 to pass President Joe Biden’s $1 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the legislation now just needs Biden’s signature to become law and deliver, as the president said, a “once in a generation investment” in the nation’s infrastructure.
The bill, which the U.S. Senate voted to pass in August, proposes $550 billion in new federal expenditure over the next eight years to upgrade highways, roads and bridges, and to modernize city transit systems and passenger rail networks.
The agreement also sets aside funding for high-speed internet, improved clean water and a nationwide network of charging points for electric vehicles.
Biden managed to get the bill passed with support from both Democrats and Republicans, after months of debate and adjustments to the legislation, and the president said that investment in infrastructure was “long overdue.”
Biden said the bill would “create millions of jobs modernizing infrastructure, our roads, our bridges, our broadband, all range of things.”
Large parts of infrastructure in the U.S. are in need of repairing and updating – the American Society of Civil Engineers recently marked the country’s infrastructure as C-.
“Because of today’s vote, state and local officials will be able to invest in a more efficient supply chain network,” said American General Contractors (AGC) CEO Stephen Sandherr. “They will also be able to improve roads and bridges to make them safer and more reliable.
“Metro areas will be able to better maintain and expand transit systems,” Sandherr said. “And water authorities will be able to further safeguard the quality of local drinking water, among other improvements funded by this bill. The measure also provides needed investments to make infrastructure more resilient to extreme weather events.”
Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) President and CEO Michael Bellaman said that the legislation’s passage “creates an opportunity to effectively modernize our nation’s most critical infrastructure, and ABC and our members stand ready to do the important work to bring America’s infrastructure into the 21st century.”
However, Bellaman said ABC is “wary” of some of the bill’s exclusionary provisions and statements from the Biden administration that could restrict the eligibility of America’s workers to compete for and participate in these construction projects.
The National Governors Association, National Conference of State Legislatures, Council of State Governments, International City/County Management Association, National Association of Counties, National League of Cities and the U.S. Conference of Mayors combined to release the following statement: “On behalf of the state and local elected and appointed officials that our national organizations represent, we commend House Members of both parties as they voted to advance the bipartisan infrastructure package ... A strong federal-state-local partnership is critical to delivering these investments in every community and this package will provide the investments we need to expand and repair our nation’s infrastructure.
“States and local governments know firsthand how important this funding will be to rebuilding and improving our roads and bridges, waterways and ports, transit, passenger rail, water and sewer systems, energy, broadband and telecommunications networks,” the statement continued. “We look forward to being good stewards of these funds and delivering projects the create sustainable, economic recovery and growth.”
The American Road & Transportation Builders Association said the bill will amount to a 36% annual increase in real highway funding, the highest since the late 1950s.
Doug Carlson, chief executive officer of the National Utility Contractors Association (NUCA), said, “Never before has the American utility construction industry been given by Congress resources of this magnitude to improve thousands of communities across America.”
Carlson also hailed the passing of the bill and its level of funding as an “extraordinary achievement.”
According to Biden, Americans can expect to see the effects of the bill “within the next two to three months.“