GrayRobinson Government Affairs & Lobbying E-lert: What's Happening in Washington

Infrastructure and Budget Update

Authored by: Elizabeth Blair Hancock, Federal Legislative Consultant | August 25, 2021

HOW WE GOT HERE
After months and months of debate on infrastructure legislation, lawmakers finally reached a deal. On August 10, the U.S. Senate passed their version of infrastructure, HR 3684 or the INVEST in American Act. Officially titled the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), the $550 billion bipartisan infrastructure bill passed the U.S. Senate by a 69-30 vote, with 19 Republicans voting in favor. If the U.S. House of Representatives agrees to the Senate version, it would be cleared for President Joe Biden’s signature. 

BETWEEN THE LINES
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi insisted the House wouldn’t vote on the Senate-passed IIJA until they passed the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion budget resolution package. This prompted an intra-party debate within the halls of Capitol Hill among House leadership, progressive Democrats, and moderate Democrats. A group of 10 moderate Democrats, including Florida Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy, wanted to vote on IIJA prior to passing a budget resolution of that magnitude. In a rather impressive display of herding cats, Speaker Pelosi was successful in orchestrating a procedural vote on the budget blueprint by connecting the infrastructure bill with a popular voting rights bill. 

WHERE WE ARE TODAY
Yesterday, the House narrowly cleared the way to proceed with a $3.5 trillion budget resolution. This budget resolution, which the Biden Administration calls the Build Back Better Plan, includes President Biden’s American Families Plan and key elements of the American Jobs Plan that were not included in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework (BIF). The 220-212 procedural vote in the House yesterday allows the bill to pass through the reconciliation process, which means Democrats can pass the bill with a simple majority and avoid the threat of a Republican filibuster in the Senate. 

WHAT'S IN THE...

Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework (BIF)

HIGHWAY & ROAD

  • $273 billion for federal highway construction and Surface Transportation Block Grants
  • $17.5 billion for national and local infrastructure projects with national or regional significance. Congress could pass a resolution for selected projects. This is where we could see funds transferred from the House Transportation and Infrastructure or Community Project Funding requests. 
  • $12.5 billion for Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) discretionary surface transportation grants
  • $5 billion for states to deploy electric vehicle charging infrastructure and a data-sharing network
  • $200 million per year through FY 2026 for a Safe Streets and Roads for All Program, which would make competitive grants for state projects that significantly reduce or eliminate transportation-related fatalities

AVIATION

  • $15 billion in formula funding for Airport Improvement Program projects 
  • $5 billion for airport terminal development projects 
  • $5 billion for Federal Aviation Administration facilities and equipment

WATER

  • $14.7 billion for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund Program
  • $14.7 billion for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund Program
  • $280 million per year through FY 2026 for grants to states to support municipal planning and construction of projects to address sewer overflows
  • $75 million per year through FY 2026 for research grants to address water pollution and training at water treatment works

ENERGY

  • $5 billion in electric grid security and resiliency
  • $500 million for school improvements that reduce energy costs
  • $250 million for competitive grants to small, municipal, and rural utilities to prevent and respond to cyber threats

BROADBAND

  • $42.5 billion for a Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Program, which would provide a minimum of $100 million to each state and remaining funds would be allocated using a formula 
  • $2 billion for the State Digital Equity Capacity Grant Program

Budget Resolution
The resolution directs the 12 Senate committees and 13 House committees to develop specific policy proposals. The Senate and House budget panels would then combine the various sections and send it to the full chambers without substantive revision. As such, exact details on funding amounts are still forthcoming. However, we now know areas that will be targeted for support. The budget resolution intends to make historic investments to address affordable housing by supporting programs, like the Housing Trust Fund, the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) HOME program, and HUD’s Community Development Block Grant Program. Furthermore, the plan will account for universal pre-k education and tuition-free community college. A fact sheet can be found here

WHAT'S NEXT
Following yesterday’s vote, the House is continuing its approach of debating both the infrastructure legislation and budget resolution simultaneously. Details of the $3.5 budget resolution are still in drafting stages. The various committees will work to present policy within their areas of jurisdiction by September 15. The House has set an internal deadline of September 27 to pass an infrastructure bill.