Senate Passed an Historic $1.2 Trillion Infrastructure Package
On August 11th, the US Senate passed an historic $1.2 trillion infrastructure package that significantly increases funding for bus transit programs. While only 60 votes were required, 19 Republicans joined 50 Democrats in approving the proposal that includes $550 billion in new spending for roads, bridges, and other infrastructure. In addition to more traditional infrastructure improvements, the bill also allocates billions of dollars to speed adoption of electric vehicles, upgrade the nation’s power grid and improve access to broadband internet.
There were no amendments approved in the Senate that changed bus funding levels or other transit provisions from our update last week. As a reminder, we achieved nearly all of our objectives in the Senate bill, including the following:
- Transit Increased 43%/83% Above Baseline: The transit title sees an increase of 43% above baseline levels for contract authority, for $69.9 billion over the next five years. When combined with the supplemental appropriations for transit, the package provides an 83% increase for transit funding compared to FAST Act levels.
- 172% Increase in 5339 Funding: Funding for the 5339 program increases by 172% from $808 million to $2.2 billion.
- 5339b Grants Preserved and Increased : Annual authorized funding increases by 43% (stays available for bus replacement for all fuel sources).
- Low/No Increase and Set-aside: The bill provides over $1 billion per year for the 5339c Low/No program, and requires at least 25% of all Low/No grants go to “low emission projects” (CNG, RNG, etc.).
The bill now faces what could be a rocky road in the House as there remains major issues to be resolved before this legislation becomes law. Not least of which is Speaker Pelosi’s commitment to hold back the measure until the Senate advances the yet-to-be-written multi-trillion budget reconciliation bill that is expected to implement major changes in health care, social and climate policy. The reconciliation plan also calls for $35 billion in new transportation spending over the next five years in addition to the funding in the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which could be another opportunity to secure further investment in transit.
Immediately after passing the infrastructure bill, Senate Democrats moved to begin debate on the budget resolution which will likely pass this week. However, the budget resolution is essentially a series of instructions for over two dozen committees in the House and Senate to write the eventual reconciliation bill. The final reconciliation bill itself likely won’t pass the Senate until late September at the earliest.
Thus, the timetable for House action on the bipartisan infrastructure bill is unclear at the moment. Pelosi will face significant pressure from the White House and moderate Democrats not to delay passage of the infrastructure bill, and could bring House members back from recess to pass it this month or early September. But the Speaker is navigating a narrow majority and facing similar pressure from progressive House Democrats who reiterated their threat today that they will not support the bipartisan infrastructure bill until the reconciliation bill clears the Senate. That could take a while.
We’re learning more by the day, and we should have a better idea of the timeline in the coming weeks. We’re continuing to engage with our friends and allies on the Hill, and there may be more opportunities for you to engage your delegation directly in the next month. In the meantime, we’ll keep you posted with any significant developments.