House Finally Passes $1.2 Trillion Dollar Infrastructure Bill
On November 5, 2021, after months of negotiations, the United States House of Representatives passed the Senate's $1.2 trillion infrastructure package by a vote of 228-206.
The bill, H.R. 3684, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, reauthorizes the surface transportation program for 5 years. Besides traditional road and bridge infrastructure, the legislation also includes money for expanded broadband access, the power grid, and passenger rail. With its final passage in the House, the bill will now be sent to President Joe Biden who will sign it into law.
Of particular interest to TRALA members is the truck leasing task force which establishes a 10-person panel to investigate commercial leases offered to drivers including lease-purchase agreements. The panel will be made up of representatives of labor unions, motor carriers who provide lease-purchase agreements, trial lawyers, owner-operators, consumer protection groups, and businesses who are subject to lease-purchase agreements. While TRALA members do not offer lease-purchase agreements, TRALA remains concerned that the task force could broaden the scope of the original intent to look into traditional truck leases, which are already highly regulated.
In addition to the task force, there is a voluntary national pilot program for a vehicle miles traveled (VMT) tax. The program will be open to operators of passenger motor vehicles and commercial trucks, and it will be jointly operated by the Department of Transportation and the Treasury Department. The program will be used to assess the feasibility by either replacing or adding on to the existing federal gas tax, and participants in the program will be reimbursed for their gas tax paid while in the program.
Furthermore, the infrastructure bill includes a strengthening of the rear impact guard. This would require trailers to be equipped with rear impact guards which would prohibit passenger compartment intrusion from a car travelling at 35 miles per hour. Additionally, the bill includes a mandate for Automatic Emergency Braking Systems to be drafted by the Department of Transportation within two years.
Finally, TRALA and its allies were successful in having the Senate remove the planned increase in the federal minimum insurance level for commercial motor vehicles operating in interstate commerce. TRALA and its coalition partners lobbied for months to prohibit increasing the minimum insurance level from $750,000 to $2 million. By passing the Senate infrastructure package, which includes a 5-year reauthorization of the highway bill, TRALA is optimistic that it will avoid another attempt to increase the minimum insurance for the rest of this congress.
The final passage of this bill received bipartisan support as 13 Republicans joined 215 Democrats in supporting the bill. The final passage of this bill became possible after House progressives and House moderates reached an agreement to pass the Build Back Better (BBB) budget reconciliation bill if the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) scores it the same as the White House scored the spending levels in the bill. It is expected that the CBO will take at least a week to score the bill and it might take until Thanksgiving for the House to pass the BBB. This would set up another budget showdown as the current funding authorization will expire on December 3, 2021. TRALA will continue to monitor the BBB particularly the tax provisions which will impact businesses.
You may view the infrastructure package by clicking here.
If you have any questions or comments on the infrastructure package, you may contact Andrew Stasiowski at firstname.lastname@example.org or Jake Jacoby at email@example.com.