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September State of Play: Infrastructure.

A summary of key infrastructure takeaways.

Each month, Mindset produces a summary-style State of Play, which comprises key takeaways essential to navigating the world of lobbying, issues advocacy, and government relations. Topics are honed to provide a high-level review of the most pertinent matters and concerns affecting industry today. This summary distills core need-to-knows within the Energy, Environment & Infrastructure sector in particular.

One-year extension of highway funding.

The current infrastructure bill, Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act)  of 2015, expires on September 30, 2020. Rather than passing another comprehensive infrastructure bill, House leadership added a one-year extension of surface transportation to H.R. 8319, the continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government through the November 3 election. The House is scheduled to vote on the CR in the coming days.

Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman Barrasso (R-WY), Senate Appropriations Chairman Shelby (R-AL), Senate Finance Chairman Grassley (R-IA), Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Chairman Wicker (R-MS), and House Ways and Means Chairman Neal all support adding an extension of highway funding to the CR. Bipartisan consensus exists that the extension of the FAST Act should last for one year.

Presidential candidate infrastructure plans.

The Trump administration reportedly crafted a $1 trillion infrastructure proposal to spur economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. While the plan has not been released, the proposal will include funding for roads, bridges, and rural broadband. As a reminder, President Trump issued an Executive Order to direct the Department of Transportation to use emergency authorities to expedite infrastructure projects given the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Biden Plan to Build a Modern, Sustainable Infrastructure and an Equitable Clean Energy Future outlines Biden’s $2 trillion proposal. The plan includes measures to improve surface transportation infrastructure such as roads, bridges, rail, aviation, ports, and inland waterways. Note that Biden’s infrastructure plan includes broadband, auto industry, power sector, and Brownfield site cleanup provisions.

Regardless of the election results, we expect the president to encourage the next Congress to pass a comprehensive infrastructure bill quickly.

House and Senate infrastructure proposals.

On September 15, House Democrats released the text of H.R. 4447, the Clean Economy Jobs and Innovation Act, which incorporates bipartisan bills passed by the House Energy and Commerce and the House Science, Space, and Technology Committees. The bill focuses on energy efficiency, renewable energy, carbon pollution reduction, and environmental justice.

After passing the House quickly, H.R. 2, the Moving Forward Act, stalled in the Senate. The foundation for the $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill is the INVEST in America Act, House Democrats’ $500 billion surface transportation proposal.

America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act, S. 2302, represents the prevailing infrastructure proposal in the Senate. The Environment and Public Works Committee passed the $287 billion infrastructure investment bill unanimously on July 30, 2019, but it has yet to reach the floor.

Although the House is likely to vote on H.R. 4447 tomorrow, we expect Congress to pass a one-year extension of the FAST Act through the CR rather than pass one of the bills indicated above.

Mindful is a publication from Mindset, a bipartisan public policy firm that blends advice, analysis, and advocacy to address the challenges and opportunities our partners encounter in Washington. Interested in working with Mindset? Get in touch.

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