INVEST in America Act to Fund Highways, Safety Programs, Transit
A historic level of investment has been introduced by the House Transportation & Infrastructure (T&I) Committee. The Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation in America (INVEST in America) Act (H.R. 7095) proposes $547 billion for surface transportation and emphasizes repairs to existing roads and bridges while also investing in passenger rail, public transit, cycling and walking infrastructure, zero-emission options, and more. This total is an increase from the $494 billion INVEST in America Act introduced in 2020.
Investing in infrastructure
“The benefits of transformative investments in our infrastructure are far-ranging,” said T&I Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) who introduced the bill, “We can create and sustain good-paying jobs, many of which don’t require a college degree, restore our global competitiveness, tackle climate change head-on, and improve the lives of all Americans through modern infrastructure that emphasizes mobility and access, and spurs our country’s long-term economic growth.”
This surface transportation reauthorization would extend a current law for highway and transit programs as well as add new and existing authorizations for other programs. Current highway and public transportation law expires on September 30.
The legislation would provide $343 billion for roads, bridges and safety; $109 billion for transit; and $95 billion for passenger and freight rail, and includes the promotion of environmental goals and equity with many investments targeted toward continually disadvantaged areas such as rural communities and areas of persistent poverty.
Some highlights of the bill include:
- $32 billion to ensure bridges in communities of all sizes are safer, more reliable, and more resilient.
- $8.3 billion for activities targeted to reduce carbon pollution.
- $100 million annually for a new grant program to increase bus frequency.
- More than $4 billion for zero-emission bus grants.
- $1 billion to bring transit stations into ADA compliance.
- $1 billion in new or increased service in unserved or underserved areas.
- $25 billion over five years for passenger rail improvement grants, and grants for bridges, stations and tunnels.
Status of this legislation
This version of the INVEST in America Act, which contains significant overlap with President Biden’s American Jobs Plan, will be considered by The T&I Committee during a June 9 mark-up. The Democrats, who introduced this bill, expect pushback from Republicans, who introduced a competing, $400 billion measure last month. In fact, T & I Committee ranking member Sam Graves (R-MO) dubbed H.R. 7095 the “My Way or the Highway Bill 2.0.” He states, “I believe this is the wrong bill at the wrong time.”
Counter to that sentiment, The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) strongly supports the bill. APTA President and CEO Paul Skoutelas issued a statement noting that it will “put American infrastructure on footing to compete with any country in the world.” He calls the bill a “once-in-a-generation, forward-thinking investment will help our communities,” adding, “The time is now to make this transformational investment in our national infrastructure that will provide staying power to drive our economy for years to come.”
Of course, this all comes to a head just as the Biden administration is working to get his proposed infrastructure legislation passed. He recently walked away from talks with a group of Republican senators to focus on efforts for a bipartisan compromise. “The President is committed to moving his economic legislation through Congress this summer, and is pursuing multiple paths to get this done,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.
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