On July 1, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a $1.5 trillion infrastructure investment bill—the largest and broadest federal investment in the nation’s infrastructure ever. Among the investment included in the Moving Forward Act (H.R. 2) is more than $500 billion for transportation construction, $130 billion for school construction, and $75 billion for water infrastructure construction. The bill, however, also includes certain untenable policies added during the largely partisan legislative process. Those policies are highly unlikely to advance through the Republican-controlled Senate, which will not consider this infrastructure package, or be enacted given President Trump’s veto threat. The Senate is more likely to consider targeted, more modest infrastructure investment—absent such policies—when it puts forth its pandemic relief bill by the end of July.
AGC supported the bill as a necessary but by no means sufficient step to enacting the largest federal infrastructure investment bill in history. The reason for AGC’s less-than-full-support includes but is not limited to the late addition of some concerning labor policies weaved into new, targeted programs and a mostly partisan legislative process, which threatens the historically bipartisan nature of and support for infrastructure investment. Among the labor policies, the bill would encourage government-mandated project labor agreements on projects greater than $25 million on a case-by-case basis and revive an Obama-era blacklisting regime. Such policies would apply to projects funded through some new clean energy programs.
New labor policies, however, were largely absent from existing direct-federal and federal-aid construction programs, including but not limited to the federal-aid highway and transit programs, direct federal Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works Program, and drinking water and wastewater state revolving funds. It should also be noted that 42 Republicans joined all Democrats in opposing a Davis-Bacon repeal amendment, which failed by a 147-274 vote.
AGC is aware these and other mandates will be priorities in future Democratic-led federal infrastructure bills, especially if there is a change in power after the November election. AGC will continue to advocate for broad and robust infrastructure funding without the inclusion of policies that create an unlevel playing field within the construction industry.