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House Passes Surface Transportation Infrastructure Bill; Negotiations with Senate Ahead

  • July 2, 2021

San Diego Transportation Infrastructure

The House yesterday approved a five-year, $760 billon surface transportation and water bill (H.R. 3684) with climate provisions, which Democrats plan to use in infrastructure negotiations with the Senate. The INVEST in America Act passed by a vote of 221 to 201, with only two Republicans joining Democrats in support. (Washington Post, July 1 and Invest in America Act Fact Sheet)

Must-Pass Transportation Funding

  • The House bill does not detail pay-fors yet, but is considered must-pass legislation, as funding for the nation’s surface transportation programs expires on Sept. 30. (Roundtable Weekly, June 11)

  • Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer last week said, “Americans depend on safe and efficient roads, bridges, and mass transit to commute all across the country. Our nation’s buildings and the people in them depend on reliable supplies of water, power, and broadband to function, and meet the evolving demands of business and individual tenants. In turn, infrastructure and real estate are synergistic, and have a two-way relationship.” (Roundtable news release, June 25)

Different Paths

U.S. Capitol Sunny Sky
  • In the Senate, a bipartisan agreement was reached last week with the White House on the outlines of a package addressing “physical” infrastructure. The agreement nearly fell apart after President Biden said the bill was directly linked to the passage of a separate, multi-trillion dollar “human” infrastructure proposal. (RRoundtable Weekly, June 25)

  • The Senate proposal includes $579 billion in new spending and was initially supported by 11 Republicans, although some have since objected. Ten Republican Senators would be needed to overcome a filibuster in the 50-50 chamber. (Bloomberg, June 25 and Punchbowl News, June 30)

  • The costs for all the infrastructure “asset classes” in the bipartisan framework are detailed in a recent White House memo from Brian Deese, Director of the National Economic Council, and Anita Dunn, Senior Adviser. (Deese-Dunn memo)

  • The Senate infrastructure agreement has not yet been translated into legislation. Republican and Democratic Senators disagree if they should move forward with a stand-alone bill, or insist on pairing it with a massive “social” infrastructure package. As Senate talks continue, the House bill passed this week could present another path toward a final infrastructure bill, since it comes with a Sept. 30 deadline. (Politico, June 30)

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) plans to reference the House bill as a base for negotiating changes to the Senate’s $973 billion bipartisan infrastructure framework in the coming weeks. (BGov, June 30)

  • House Transportation and Infrastructure Chair Peter DeFazio (D-OR), the lead sponsor of H.R. 3684, said, "I'm suggesting that substantial amounts of the policy in our bill should be negotiated by the White House, the Senate and the House to be part of that bipartisan proposal." (New York Times, July 1)

What’s Next

White House bright
  • Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) this week said President Biden should encourage Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to support the bipartisan proposal without a dependent, separate bill that would move through a restrictive budget “reconciliation” process. According to McConnell’s June 28 statement, “The President cannot let congressional Democrats hold a bipartisan bill hostage over a separate and partisan process.."

  • White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki commented June 30 on the evolving infrastructure proposals, stating, “It’s up to leaders in Congress to move this forward. The President looks forward to signing both pieces of legislation into law.”  (White House Press Briefing transcript)

Senate Democrats are aiming to pass bipartisan infrastructure legislation and send it to the House before the August recess, in hopes that a package could arrive on President Biden’s desk by the end of September. (Reuters, June 29)

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