Construction Industry Association’s React to $2 Trillion Infrastructure Plan

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On March 31, President Biden unveiled The American Jobs Plan, a $2 trillion infrastructure plan aimed at creating jobs and rebuilding the country’s infrastructure.

Several associations related to the construction industry weighed in on the plan. While all agreed that this is an important step forward, many questioned the plan’s funding mechanism and tying the plan to the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act.

Here is a collection of statements from industry associations. This post will be updated as more reactions are obtained.

American Petroleum Institute (API)

“We support the administration’s goal of modernizing the nation’s infrastructure – including roads, bridges, rail and ports. We also welcome the administration’s efforts to address the risks of climate change by incentivizing innovation for hydrogen and CCUS as part of this infrastructure package. At the same time, this proposal misses an opportunity to take an across-the-board approach to addressing all our infrastructure needs – including on modern pipelines,” said API senior vice president for Policy, Economic and Regulatory Affairs Frank Macchiarola.

“Targeting specific industries with new taxes would only undermine the nation’s economic recovery and jeopardize good-paying jobs, including union jobs. It’s important to note that our industry receives no special tax treatment, and we will continue to advocate for a tax code that supports a level playing field for all economic sectors along with policies that sustain and grow the billions of dollars in government revenue that we help generate.”

American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)

ASCE’s 2021 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure found the nation earned a ‘C-’, up from 2017’s cumulative GPA of ‘D+’. This is the first time since ASCE began issuing the Report Card that the nation’s infrastructure has received a GPA outside of the D range. However, progress has been incremental and 11 of the 17 categories received scores in the “D” range, demonstrating that much work needs to be done to improve the overall infrastructure network.

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The nearly $2 trillion investment over the next 8 years in the Administration proposal, including $621 billion dedicated to modernizing our surface transportation networks, $25 billion to airports, $111 billion for clean drinking water, $100 billion for broadband, and $17 billion to inland waterways and ports, will go a long way to ensure that our nation’s infrastructure continues to improve in the upcoming decade.

The focus is rightly on tackling the maintenance backlog for our transportation, water, and freight systems, enabling “shovel worthy” ideas to get across the finish line, ensuring new projects result in systems that are more resilient, investing in transmission lines to connect the grid, and reflects that our infrastructure is truly a connected system that is only as strong as its weakest link.  The recent tragedy in Texas has brought that concept to the forefront.

Beyond raising the grades, the investments proposed in the American Jobs Plan could result in long-term economic gains for American families and businesses. ASCE’s recent study Failure to Act: Economic Impacts of Status Quo Investment Across Infrastructure Systems, finds that continued underinvestment in infrastructure and the inefficiencies that will result will have a cascading effect on the economy over the next 20 years. In fact, ASCE estimates that the U.S. is set to underinvest in our nation’s infrastructure by $2.59 trillion over the next 10 years, resulting in increased costs for families, lost jobs, and declining GDP. The American Jobs Plan would cut significantly into these funding gaps and ensure that the federal government is working with state and local governments to make these much-needed investments. As the nation looks to revitalize and jumpstart the economy, ASCE believes that infrastructure investment is the key to long-term recovery and prosperity, as well as providing access and opportunity to communities across the country. We look forward to working with the Administration and Members of Congress on this crucial, bipartisan, issue as the American Jobs Plan continues to develop.

American Water Works Association (AWWA)

“The American Water Works Association appreciates the Biden Administration’s recognition of the need to strongly reinvest in U.S. drinking water and wastewater infrastructure. Our nation’s water systems protect public health, safeguard the environment and allow our economy to prosper. It’s hard to imagine a more important federal investment.

“The American Jobs Plan includes $45 billion to address lead in drinking water in homes and schools. AWWA is committed to working toward a day when lead is no longer in contact with the water we drink. Assistance from federal partners and many others is critical given the scope of the lead service line replacement challenge, which could exceed $60 billion.

“The plan also allocates $56 billion toward a broad array of infrastructure programs, and $10 billion for monitoring and remediation of per- and polyfluorinated substances (PFAS). AWWA looks forward to working with our members and U.S. Congress as this plan moves through the legislative process.”

Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC)

“Our nation is in strong bipartisan agreement that America’s crumbling roads, bridges, schools and water, energy and transportation systems are in desperate need of modernization in order to accelerate our strong economic comeback and keep our country competitive in a global economy,” said ABC president and CEO Michael Bellaman.

“ABC continues to advocate for any plan to modernize our nation’s infrastructure to include policies to reduce costly and ineffective regulations, ensure fair and open competition, address the construction industry’s skilled worker shortage, embrace new technology, and pursue value-adding, public-private partnerships that can help bring critical construction projects to market in a more economical and efficient manner. Unfortunately, much of the Biden plan ignores ABC’s infrastructure policy recommendations, while proposing tax increases on job-creating construction firms that are still recovering from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“While policy details are still emerging and the infrastructure plan will need to go through Congress, it is disappointing to see the Biden administration support the use of divisive government-mandated project labor agreement schemes on taxpayer-funded construction projects. Government-mandated PLAs exclude more than 87% of the U.S. construction workforce from rebuilding their communities and benefitting from well-paying middle-class jobs created by taxpayer investments in infrastructure. It also means taxpayers will spend 20% more per mandated PLA project, which results in fewer infrastructure improvements and less job creation to help America rebound from the pandemic’s economic devastation. Coupled with a call for Congress to pass the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, it is clear the Biden administration’s infrastructure plan is designed to help powerful donors and special interests instead of all Americans.

“It is difficult to support an infrastructure plan that excludes the 87% of the workforce that chooses not to join a union and promotes the PRO Act, which eliminates workers’ freedom to choose how to pursue their career dreams, places their personal information security at risk and legalizes intimidation and secondary boycotting against a company’s supply chain and customers.

“We encourage President Biden to work with Congress and stakeholders to pursue a bipartisan path forward that would efficiently and effectively modernize our infrastructure, drive economic growth, welcome every construction professional and deliver value to all taxpayers. ABC will continue to work with Congress and the Biden administration to improve the infrastructure plan.”

Associated General Contractors of America (AGC)

“We greet the President’s new infrastructure proposal with mixed emotions. On one hand, the President is right to focus on rebuilding a broad range of aging and overburdened infrastructure and modernizing buildings. These investments will create a significant number of new construction career opportunities that traditionally pay well above jobs in other industries. Unfortunately, the President seeks to saddle these new investments with a host of labor and regulatory measures that will hurt workers and offset many of the economic benefits of these new infrastructure investments,” said Associated General Contractors of America CEO Stephen E. Sandherr.

“For example, by seeking to couple his new infrastructure proposal with the dangerous PRO Act, the President is signaling that infrastructure investments must come at the expense of labor harmony and economic certainty. That is because the PRO Act will give organized labor unprecedented abilities to disrupt all manner of economic activities, at any time, to meet their broader objectives. His justification for seeking to impose the labor measures in this proposal, that construction workers have been traditionally underpaid, is clearly wrong as even a cursory check of data tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics would have confirmed.

“The President’s proposal to finance the new investments primarily via an increase in the corporate tax rate will likely undermine many of its economic benefits. That is because these new tax hikes will limit the ability of many employers to invest in capital improvement that will provide additional career opportunities for construction workers. The tax hikes will also undermine firms’ ability to investment in new equipment and technology and will limit America’s global competitiveness.

“The most important aspect of the President’s proposal is that it once again serves as a reminder that we need to boost investments in our infrastructure. Our expectation is this proposal will prompt an important debate about the best way to make, and fund, those investments in a way that fully supports economic growth. We look forward to working with members of Congress in both parties to craft a bipartisan infrastructure proposal that will do as much to boost economic growth as it does to improve civil works and make our structures more efficient.”

Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM)

“We support President Biden’s vision for how to build a new and stronger economy that creates opportunity for all Americans,” said Kip Eideberg, AEM senior vice president of government and industry relations. “Equipment manufacturers are investing in their communities and creating new family-sustaining jobs, encouraged by signs that we may finally be getting COVID-19 under control. We stand ready to work with President Biden to help him make the bold, transformational investment in workforce development, infrastructure, and American manufacturing that is long overdue.

“At the same time, we strongly urge him to make sure that we preserve the predictability and stability in the tax code that keeps equipment manufacturers competitive and drives job creation and good wages. Tax reform made equipment manufacturers more competitive in the global economy. It is imperative that we do not undo that progress.”

National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA)

In his plan, the Administration has proposed a total of $111 billion dollars in clean water and drinking water investments. The plan proposes prioritizing federal spending on several aspects of water quality – proposing $56 billion toward upgrading and modernizing America’s wastewater, stormwater, and drinking water systems through grant and low-cost loans, another $45 billion specifically toward a goal of removing 100% of lead service lines across the country, and $10 billion toward monitoring and remediating PFAS in drinking water.

“The public clean water sector applauds President Biden’s commitment to strengthening federal investment in water infrastructure,” said NACWA’s general counsel and chief advocacy officer, Nathan Gardner-Andrews.

“Safe water is as important as safe roadways, and the numbers proposed in the President’s plan are a good starting point to increase federal investment in water infrastructure. Clean and safe water is vital to economic opportunity, controlling the spread of disease and chronic health problems, and providing a healthy environment for communities to thrive. Water deserves a full commitment from the federal government as a true funding partner.

“For decades, the cost of providing clean water services to protect public health and the environment has risen substantially. Yet the federal investment has not kept pace, leading ever-greater costs to be managed by utilities and their customers. The federal cost-share of providing clean and drinking water services is now shockingly below 5 percent.

“President Biden’s plan will help reverse this decline and aid clean water agencies across the country invest in critical infrastructure projects, advanced technologies, and greater water quality protection.”

NACWA looks forward to working with the White House and Congress to ensure that as strong an investment as possible in addressing the water challenges today and for future generations ultimately makes it to President Biden’s desk for signature.

National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA)

President Biden’s American Jobs Plan is the first step of many in moving legislation forward that will help rebuild and modernize our nation’s infrastructure. It also provides a real opportunity for Congress to work together in a bipartisan manner. Infrastructure is not an issue either party owns; we as Americans own this issue.

NECA looks forward to working with the Administration and Congress to enact a sweeping infrastructure plan that will rebuild and invest in the future of electric vehicles, modernize our nation’s electrical grid, expand broadband networks, and better our roads, bridges, waterways, existing buildings, as well as our clean water and wastewater infrastructure. We will also work to ensure that the needs and best interests of NECA contractors are represented throughout this process.

We thank the President for putting this plan together to help move the economic future of our nation in the right direction.

National Utility Contractors Association (NUCA)

“President Biden’s infrastructure plan has some very good elements in it, such as the $111 billion to increase spending on improving our nation’s water infrastructure systems. The $100 billion for both broadband improvements and building a resilient electric grid will deliver long-term improvements for millions of Americans,” said NUCA CEO Doug Carlson.

“However, our industry joins the American business community in being wary about how the President is going to pay for all of this with corporate tax increases on the very companies that create new jobs. Congress has its work cut out on reconciling this plan with economic and fiscal realities.

“The best thing that can be said about the plan is that the Administration and Congress, and both parties, are at least talking about infrastructure. Our deteriorating water and wastewater systems, crumbling highways, and insufficient broadband capacity can’t be ignored forever.”

RELATED: Equipment Manufacturers Report Positive Outlook for 2021

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