September 23, 2021
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By a vote of 69 to 30, the Senate passed the $1.2 trillion “Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act” or IIJA on August 10 – a legislative package clocking in at 2,702 pages in length.

[Above photo by the Architect of the Capitol]

The IIJA garnered strong bipartisan support within the Senate as 19 Republicans voted in favor of the infrastructure package. The bill also has broad support within the transportation industry as well.

Jim Tymon

Jim Tymon, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, noted in a statement that the infrastructure package provides a “robust funding increase” for all modes of transportation.

“The bill allows for five years of funding stability for highway, transit, and passenger rail programs, with a large share of the Highway Trust Fund support provided directly to the state departments of transportation that keep our communities moving safely and efficiently,” he said.

Tymon also noted that AASHTO and its members appreciate the creation of a formula-based bridge investment and electric vehicle funding programs, substantial action to address climate change and improve system resiliency, and improvements to the project delivery and environmental review process – all important priorities for state departments of transportation.

He stressed that next step in the process is to work with Congress and President Biden to get the IIJA enacted before the currently federal transportation fund legislation – the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation or FAST Act – expires at the end of September.

Tymon said passage of the IIJA by the full Congress is critical to “ensuring state DOTs have the funding and federal partnership they need to advance our quality of life and economic prosperity.”

Photo by the Architect of the Capitol

In anticipation of IIJA’s passage, the Senate on August 9 introduced its $3.5 trillion Fiscal Year 2022 budget resolution to start the reconciliation process focused on social programs and tax measures. It passed the resolution by a vote of 50 to 49 on August 11 to kick off the “budget reconciliation” process to advance this larger package.

The relevant Senate committees should produce their portion of the reconciliation funding measure by September 15. However, the budget resolution currently does not include the expiration of a debt ceiling agreement put in place two years ago. Consequently, the U.S. Department of the Treasury is taking what it calls “extraordinary measure,” or emergency cash conservation steps to prevent default on federal debt.

The House of Representatives must now take up the $1.2 trillion IIJA and $3.5 trillion budget resolution, though later on August 10, the House announced it would return from its August recess on August 23 instead of September 20 in order to consider its own FY 2022 budget resolution.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Speaker of the House, said she would not take up the IIJA until the budget reconciliation package is also ready from the Senate.

“I’m glad [the IIJA] passed [the Senate]. I’m glad it’s bipartisan, strongly. But it is not the totality of the vision of Joe Biden and the Congressional Democrats,” she said during a press event.

editor@aashto.org

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