$1 Trillion Dollar Infrastructure Act: What’s in it, what’s not, and how you will pay for it.
$1 Trillion Dollar Infrastructure Bill
The 1 Trillion Dollar Act, Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 were passed in the Senate last week. Members support the bill on either party line. Before being approved by the President, the infrastructure bill will be sent to the House of Representatives for another vote.
This bill is commonly referenced as the Highway Infrastructure Bill but includes many projects that extend beyond the scope of the transportation industry. This act carries a hefty 1 trillion dollar act price tag and will add billions of dollars to the nation’s deficit.
The bill garnered majority support in the Senate last week, a 69-30 vote in favor of the bill. The portions of the bill related to highway infrastructure are listed below.
- $110B Maintain and Improve Roads and Bridges
- $66B Modernize Railways
- $40B Modernize Public Transit
- $11B for Safety Program for Crash Reduction
The rest of the bill includes investments in cybersecurity, broadband internet, electric vehicles, environmental remediation, improving the electrical grid, energy production, and airport upgrades.
Although the bill is supported in majority by both parties, there were hours of painstaking negotiations before the final presentation was submitted. Below, you will find a few proposals that did not cut.
In its creation, almost $20B was to be used to improve the state of Veterans Affairs hospitals. These hospitals are less than modern and notoriously slow to serve. These hospitals, in their current underfunded state, serve over 9 million U.S. Veterans.
The bill originally contained several proposals to help those still displaced in the workforce due to the pandemic. Approximately $100B was to be dedicated to workforce development for dislocated workers and high school students.
Biden’s original proposal included a $400B investment in the care of aging and disabled Americans by expanding Medicaid. This section would have allowed easier access to federally funded long-term and in-home care.
The apprenticeship program for drivers under 21 years old. IT would work much like a typical learner’s permit, requiring an experienced driver be present in the passenger seat at all times of operation. It also requires specific safety specifications such as monitoring systems, governing systems, and video cameras.
If passed, the FMCSA will work with the Transportation Research Board to perform an in-depth driver compensation analysis. This study should compare how different types of compensation (CPM, hourly, salary, etc.) affect driver safety and retention.
The legislation asks the DOT and Labor Department to arrange a task force for owner-operators. Their duty will be reviewing lease contracts and the impact on maintenance, emissions, and driver pay rates.
The DOT is also asked to focus on automatic emergency braking, trailer underride guard requirements, and crash causation.
This bill will increase the national deficit by billions of dollars over the next several years. There were plans to pay for this bill with tax increases for corporations and individuals earning over $400,000 annually. New tax laws would have considered non-U.S. investments and made it difficult for corporations to filter money through international tax havens. These provisions were voted out in the negotiations.
Instead, the government will reclaim monies originally allocated for Covid relief from states who voluntarily end their programs early. States can choose to terminate the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, the Paycheck Protection Program, and the Education Stabilization Fund and return their allocations to the federal government to support the infrastructure bill. States can also choose to end the increased unemployment supplements in hopes of increasing the workforce.
The bill includes a pilot program that will test whether a road usage fee is appropriate. Highway drivers will be charged a per-mile fee that will support the Highway Trust Fund in the long-term. There are other user-based revenue models to be included.
Programs for Carriers
The bill directs the entire trucking industry towards green operations with sections regarding climate change and emissions. The SMART Program encourages clean energy through new technology. SMART stands for Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation Grant. Grants will be issued to begin projects on driverless vehicles, smart grids, and any data and solutions “supporting efficient goods movement.”
The bill creates an Electric Vehicle Working Group. Trucking leaders and manufacturers will work together to ramp up the production of electronic trucks and parts. Grants will be available for electronic charging and alternative fuels such as hydrogen, propane, etc.
Industry Leaders Weigh In
In a recent interview with CNBC, “The sooner it gets to the President’s desk, the better.” said Pete Buttigieg, U.S. secretary of Transportation. “The whole country, this whole economy is linked in terms of air and rail, water, roads, everything fits together. And frankly, everything needs more work.”
“We are on the cusp of an infrastructure decade that I truly believe will transform America.”
- President Joe Biden
Our longtime friend Ellen Voie is the CEO of Women in Trucking. Ellen is a proponent for inclusion and diversity in the industry and focuses on the needs of women in trucking. She has supported the portion of the bill which encourages more women to join the industry. The bill calls for additional FMCSA support for women in trucking.
Currently, only 6.6% of truckers are women. Ellen states the bill is a significant step toward growing the presence of women in the industry and enduring they can grow within in. Ellen was a special guest on a recent Boot Camp event for Infinit-I Workforce. You can view her presentation here: Women in Trucking
While both parties heavily support the bill, many politicians stand in firm opposition. In a Facebook post about the bill, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee cleared any doubt about his political stance:
“I’m still trying to figure out why 19 Senate Republicans thought we needed to spend $1.2 trillion on a Democrat wish list “infrastructure” bill that spends only about a fifth of its budget on what most people would consider infrastructure.”
In support of the bill, Congressman Matt Cartwright states, “More jobs, better roads, expanded passenger rail. These are some of the many benefits that Pennsylvanians will reap from this infrastructure bill.”
Front Line Opinions
Will this bill have any impact on truck drivers? Short answer: No, not immediately. Truck drivers face bigger problems every day that are not specifically mentioned in the bill. The bill will mostly benefit motor carriers in a long-term way.
The infrastructure bill pushes political agendas such as clean energy and cyber security, which are not considered an immediate need to truck drivers themselves. These will be will be in the works for years. Even with a $1 Trillion dollar act price tag, few solutions for short-term problems such as parking and accommodations.
Gerald states, “Once again Congress fails to address the most important issue… Inadequate Truck Parking… Congress created this mess and they now refuse to address it.”
Doug Oldham is not too impressed with the infrastructure bill either, commenting, “What we need is better road[s] and bridges, fix old ones, build truck only lanes, build new bypasses around over loaded routes, build new truck stops.”
The two opinions above were pulled from the comments section of TruckingInfo.com blog about the infrastructure bill.
Infinit-I hopes that you learned something about the $1 Trillion Dollar Infrastructure Act: What’s in it, what’s not, and how you will pay for it in this article. Please feel free to read more about business news and trucking industry specific articles in our growing database.