House Passes its $1.5 Trillion Infrastructure Package
Yesterday, July 1, 2020, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 2, the Moving Forward Act, by a vote of 233-188.
The bill authorizes over $1.5 trillion to fund several Democratic priorities. These include climate change actions, a reauthorization of the surface transportation program called the INVEST in America Act, increased use of green energy, the building of new schools, monies for clean water, and broadband. The bill relies on a series of bonds, and low interest loans to pay for its proposals.
The highway bill includes several provisions of concern to TRALA members. Specifically, the Truck Leasing Task Force, an increase in the required minimum insurance for motor carriers, a new mandate on rear impact guards, and a new mandate on Automatic Emergency Brake systems (AEBs). In addition to the provisions from the INVEST in America Act, the Moving Forward Act includes a pilot program to provide grants, rebates, and low-cost loans for eligible entities to replace diesel powered transport refrigeration units with electric units. Additionally, the pilot programs allow eligible entities to purchase and install shore power infrastructure to enable transport refrigeration units to connect to electric power or to operate and maintain vehicles and equipment related to electric transport refrigeration units. Furthermore, the bill includes a series of grants and incentives to increase the infrastructure for incorporating a greater number of electronic vehicles onto US highways.
On the revenue side, the bill relies on an extensive number of bond and tax credits to encourage investment in green programs. Additionally, the bill extends at current rates the Highway Trust Fund including the tax on gas and diesel, and the Federal Excise Tax on heavy duty trucks and trailers until September 31, 2027. Finally, the bill calls for a general fund transfer of $145.3 billion to pay for the shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund created by the additional spending in the INVEST in America Act.
TRALA, along with a group of trucking industry stakeholders was able to get two amendments submitted to the Rules Committee for consideration on the House floor. The first amendment was offered by Rep. Mike Bost (R-IL), which would have stripped out the unnecessary increase in minimum insurance for Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMV). While the amendment was offered at the Rules Committee, the Democratic majority on the committee voted against allowing the amendment to be heard on the House Floor. Additionally, an amendment by Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ), which would have suspended the Federal Excise Tax (FET) on heavy duty trucks and trailers until the end of 2021, was also submitted. The amendment was also defeated at the Rules Committee and was not allowed to be offered during floor debate. While both amendments are clearly germane to the underlying bill, they were not accepted by the Rules Committee because the Democratic majority does not support these provisions and they wanted to limit their debate on the House Floor.
H.R. 2 will now move to the Senate where TRALA is confident that it is essentially dead on arrival. That being said, TRALA remains very concerned about the insurance minimums and the leasing task force in particular and will be working with other industry stakeholders to educate Senators on these provisions and why neither should be included in any future legislation or as part of a conference committee between the two legislative chambers.
TRALA believes that there will be consideration of another COVID-19 (Coronavirus) relief package once the House and Senate return from the July 4 recess. The size and scope of the coronavirus package is still being debated among leadership and the White House, but TRALA is pushing for the inclusion of the FET suspension in that relief package.
You may view a copy of the Moving Forward Act by clicking here.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding the Moving Forward Act please do not hesitate to contact Jake Jacoby at firstname.lastname@example.org or Andrew Stasiowski at email@example.com.