- House Democrats have unveiled a $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill that includes almost $500 billion of green measures proposed as part of the Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation in America (INVEST in America) Act earlier this month.
- In addition to the spending included in the INVEST in America Act, the larger Moving Forward Act also would provide: $300 billion for structurally deficient bridges; $100 billion for facility upgrades at high-poverty schools; $100 billion for affordable housing infrastructure; $100 billion in broadband internet; $40 billion for wastewater infrastructure; $70 billion for the electric grid for more renewable energy and upgrades; $30 billion for hospitals and other healthcare infrastructure; and $3 billion for "shovel-ready" Great Lakes, coastal and marine projects.
- The current FAST (Fixing America's Surface Transportation) Act will expire Sept. 30, so Democrats and Republicans must come up with a plan to reauthorize funding. However, some Senate Republicans say that House Democrats have cut their Republican counterparts out of the bill-writing process.
During a press conference announcing the Moving Forward Act, lawmakers took aim at President Donald Trump's administration and its moves to waiver environmental regulations in the name of speeding up the infrastructure permitting process. Democrat Rep. Peter DeFazio of Oregon, chair of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said that the USDOT has not implemented reforms that are available to it and that waiving the National Environmental Policy Act process is not necessary.
The Trump administration has regularly waived environmental regulations for the construction of barriers at the U.S.-Mexico border, but most recently directed federal agencies to waive them and to take other actions in order to move infrastructure projects forward during the post-COVID-19 recovery.
Before the Moving America Forward Act announcement, the Associated Builders and Contractors sent a letter to DeFazio and to the other members of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee outlining what the organization would like to see included in the bill. The suggestions include some measures that DeFazio and other Democrats are not likely to favor, including:
- Additional streamlining of environmental and permitting reviews.
- Promoting "fair and open competition" through the exclusion of project labor agreements and prevailing wage requirements.