While ECA keeps its nose to the grindstone of local government construction opportunities and an eye on what’s going on in Sacramento, we also have an ear listening to what’s going on in Washington (how does anybody work in that position?) through our membership in the Clean Water Construction Coalition.
What we’ve been hearing was encouraging, with the announcement that President Trump and the Democratic leadership reached an agreement to pursue a $2 trillion, ten-year infrastructure spending plan.
Then we heard, along with the rest of the nation, that the President shut the door on any further action on the infrastructure plan as long as the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives continued their current round of investigations and threats of impeachment.
So now we wait to see what Washington has to say next. What they haven’t said, and nobody else has either, is anything about reauthorization of the federal highway funding program, which expires September 30, 2020. The last reauthorization effort (FAST Act) took five years and 36 funding extensions to reach consensus. With the current climate in the Capitol, there is simply no way to know how long the new chapter in federal highway funding will take to write. It’s sort of like waiting for George R. R. Martin to finish his Game of Thrones saga.
Before the latest stumbling block, CWCC heard that the effort is “full speed ahead.”
Speaker Pelosi reserved the designation of H.R. 2 for the infrastructure bill. Bill designations of 10 or less have traditionally indicated issues of great importance. The Speaker’s staff had numerous conversations with the staff of Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rich Neal and Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) regarding the substance and timing of a bill.
DeFazio was saying to expect a bill by summer. DeFazio has introduced, with bipartisan support, a clean water state revolving fund and an alternative water source project bill which will be one of the three cornerstones of his mega infrastructure bill – the other two being highways and aviation.
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) is asking members what they want in an infrastructure bill. Those “asks” are due soon. EPW Chair John Barrasso (RWY) has the infrastructure bill that he drafted last year which has not been made public, the reports being that the focus is on regulatory and permitting reform.
Perhaps this latest brouhaha will be like a summer thunderstorm—a lot of noise followed by rain—this time raining money.
By Brendan Slagle, ECA President Email: [email protected]