ISSA Statement on Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill Passed by SenateAugust 10, 2021
Earlier today, the U.S. Senate passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (H.R. 3684). The bipartisan 69-30 vote on the bill represented a breakthrough that has eluded Congress and presidents for years, despite both political parties identifying infrastructure as a priority. The package focuses on investments in roads, railways, bridges, and broadband internet and calls for US$550 billion in new spending over five years.
“Many of our members will benefit from the infrastructure bill passed by the Senate,” said ISSA Director of Government Affairs John Nothdurft. “This legislation would provide much-needed investment in transportation and thus ensure supply-chain resiliency for the cleaning industry. We urge the U.S. House of Representatives to follow suit by passing this critical piece of legislation.”
Specifically, the infrastructure package includes the following:
The bill incorporates the surface transportation legislation already passed by the Senate Commerce and Environment and Public Works Committees. It includes a surface transportation topline funding level of $110 billion, including $36.7 billion for bridges, $7.5 billion for RAISE (formerly BUILD grants), $5 billion for multi-modal grants, and $3.2 billion for the INFRA grant program. The bill also includes $66 billion for passenger and freight rail, including intercity passenger and freight rail funding, safety improvements, and railroad crossing hazard elimination. Crucially for cities, the package includes $39.15 billion for public transit, including for maintenance, rehabilitation, capital investment, and for the purchase or lease of zero- or low-emission buses. It also incorporates $5 billion for state and local “vision zero” plans and improvements to street safety.
The topline funding level for water infrastructure is $55 billion. This includes $23.4 billion for the bipartisan Senate-passed Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act, although no details on how that will be divided among the programs. The bill also provides additional funding for addressing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), drinking water contamination, and lead pipe replacement, but no details on amounts for each or whether it will be in the form of loans or grants for local governments.
Resiliency and Energy Infrastructure
The bill provides $46 billion in funding resilience and energy infrastructure. This includes funding for cybersecurity to address critical infrastructure needs, waste management, flood mitigation, wildfire, drought, coastal resiliency, ecosystem restoration, and weatherization. Many of these programs come from the bipartisan Energy Infrastructure Act passed by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which is incorporated into the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Additionally, the bill would strengthen the electric grid; support energy efficiency and renewable energy for residential and commercial buildings, industrial and manufacturing sectors, and schools; and address western water resilience and infrastructure.
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act allocates $65 billion to closing the digital divide, through a combination of federal broadband infrastructure grants, financing, and grants for digital inclusion and affordability. The proposal includes $40 billion for a state block grant program to reach unserved and underserved locations, $600 million to finance projects in rural areas, $2 billion for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s ReConnect rural broadband program, a “middle mile” broadband infrastructure grant program, and an additional $2 billion for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program. It also includes $2.75 billion for the Digital Equity Act, which provides state and competitive grants for digital inclusion planning and programming, and additional funding for the Emergency Broadband Benefit program, to extend a subsidy for broadband subscriptions to low-income households for an additional five years at a lower $30-per-month rate.
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act includes support for cybersecurity, in recognition of the increasing threat of cyberattacks such as ransomware to critical infrastructure. The package includes a new dedicated $1 billion, five-year grant program to support state, local, tribal, and territorial cybersecurity. The package also includes supplemental funding for the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate for Research and Development; the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency; and the Office of the National Cyber Director to provide research, coordination, and assistance to federal agencies, state and local governments, and private infrastructure owners to prevent and respond to cyberattacks.
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act contains $60 million in new funds directed toward skills training in the energy and construction sectors.
The infrastructure package would be financed through a combination of funds, including repurposing unspent emergency relief funds from the COVID-19 pandemic, and strengthening tax enforcement for cryptocurrencies. Additionally, the package would end the employee retention tax credit three months early, on October 1 instead of January 1, 2022. The refundable credit, a COVID-19-era payroll tax break for ailing businesses, offers up to $7,000 per worker per quarter in 2021.
Nineteen Senate Republicans joined the Democratic caucus to support the bill, but its outlook remains uncertain in the U.S. House of Representatives. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (CA-D) has said that her chamber will not take up the legislation until the Senate also passes a $3.5 trillion budget resolution.