House Democrats Pass $1.5 Trillion Climate-Focused Infrastructure Package While GOP Prioritizes Surface Transportation Funding
House Democrats on July 1 passed a sprawling $1.5 trillion infrastructure package (the Moving Forward Act, H.R. 2) largely along party lines (233-188). The bill would reauthorize spending for the nation’s roads, bridges and mass transit transportation – and also addresses housing, water, broadband, renewable energy, electric grid, and education infrastructure. (Wall Street Journal and Washington Post, July 1)
- The broad Democratic package reflects the party’s blueprint for infrastructure priorities in the lead-up to the November elections. (Politico, July 1) H.R. 2 includes climate-related provisions that would require states to measure and reduce emissions from transportation systems, which account for the nation’s single largest source of greenhouse gases. (U.S. Energy Information Administration)
- H.R. 2 would also support mass transit and other low-emissions transportation modes with more money, and spur greater electrification of vehicle fleets.
- H.R.. 2 faces steep GOP opposition. (E&E News, June 29) Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said the measure is “not going anywhere in the Senate” due to its price tag and focus away from highways and more traditional surface transportation funding. (The Hill, July 1)
- The White House threatened to veto H.R. 2 because it includes “‘Green New Deal’ initiatives” and “fails to tackle the issue of unnecessary permitting delays, which are one of the most significant impediments to improving our infrastructure.” (Statement of Administrative Policy, June 29) The Trump administration is reportedly preparing its own $1 trillion infrastructure proposal. (Reuters, June 15)
- A core component of the House-passed legislation is a $494 billion surface transportation bill – the INVEST in America Act – that would reauthorize funding for the Highway Trust Fund, which is scheduled to expire on September 30. Action on the Highway Trust Fund has been considered a “must-do” policy item before the November elections (Roundtable Weekly, June 19 and June 26)
- A National League of Cities survey shows that coronavirus-related expenses have forced more than 700 U.S. cities to suspend or terminate plans to upgrade critical infrastructure. (Washington Post, June 23)
Job-creating infrastructure legislation could become a major focus for lawmakers in the second half of 2020 as high unemployment levels linger amid increasing uncertainty about business reopenings during the pandemic.
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