House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Passes FAST Act Reauthorization
On Wednesday, June 17, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee began a two-day, 24-hour markup of the INVEST Act, legislation to reauthorize surface transportation programs. (Text here, fact sheet here, amendments here, amendment votes here). The five-year legislation funded highway programs at $319 billion, transit programs at $105 billion and rail at $60 billion, with another $10 billion for safety programs. Well over 300 amendments were offered, many of which were rolled into a 99-page manager’s amendment. Ahead of the markup, NRMCA was briefed by Republican staff on the Republican alternative plan, which was offered by Ranking Member Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO).
Unfortunately, the starkly partisan formulation and consideration of the legislation all but guaranteed that Congress will be forced to pass an extension to the FAST Act before the September 30 expiration deadline, rather than produce a bipartisan reauthorization. In addition to reauthorizing and increasing funding for surface transportation programs, the legislation includes several provisions supported by the ready mixed concrete industry:
- Dedicated funding for repairing and replacing bridges;
- Resilience funding to enhance the durability of infrastructure; and
- Research grant funding for materials that reduce emissions.
Notwithstanding these policies, the legislation also includes provisions adverse to the ready mixed concrete industry, including:
- Natural infrastructure is included as an alternative to traditional infrastructure;
- Increase in minimum insurance coverage for heavy trucks; and
- Delay of FMCSA’s June 1 Hours of Service rule.
NRMCA had worked to ensure that an amendment was included to prevent the delay of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Hours of Service rule announced on June 1. NRMCA champion Rep. Mike Bost (R-IL) offered an amendment to strike the delay, but it was defeated on a largely party-line vote, despite NRMCA’s outreach and advocacy to all committee members. In addition, several amendments worth watching were either withdrawn or defeated, including an amendment by Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL) to streamline federal permitting and an amendment by Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL) to institute a privately-funded infrastructure bank that could fund up to $1 trillion in infrastructure projects.
The INVEST Act, as amended, was reported favorably out of committee and was expected to serve as a large, $1.5 trillion package announced last week by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) that included investments in housing, clean energy, schools and clean water (see related E-NEWS item below).
As the surface reauthorization moves to the floor in the House and the Senate continues to consider possibilities for passing a combined surface and water reauthorization, NRMCA will continue to advocate for the industry’s priorities.
House Introduces Massive Infrastructure Bill
Earlier this week, House Democrats introduced H.R. 2, the Moving Forward Act, to invest $1.5 trillion in infrastructure, housing, broadband, drinking and wastewater, clean energy, healthcare and more. The legislation is built around the INVEST Act, which passed from the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee last week (see above E-NEWS item). Text of the legislation is available here, a section-by-section breakdown here and a fact sheet here. NRMCA will report further as it analyzes the legislation. The legislation could be brought to the House floor as soon as early July.
Treasury, SBA Update PPP Loan Forgiveness Guidance and Recipient Disclosure
Last week, Treasury and the Small Business Administration (SBA) released loan forgiveness application and accompanying instructions. After feedback from loan recipients, the SBA published a subsequent forgiveness application in a shorter “EZ” format (the original form is here, instructions here, the EZ form here and EZ form instructions here). As always, NRMCA urges members to consult with their lenders and attorneys to ensure compliance with these programs. You can find more resources and guidance on the PPP program here.
In early June, President Trump signed the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act into law, relaxing the 75/25 rule and extending the window for using Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan funds. While NRMCA believes additional reforms are necessary and continues to advocate for additional reforms, including clarity on retroactive forgiveness rules and tax deductible expenses, this legislation will provide some needed flexibility for NRMCA members who have received PPP loans.
On Friday, Treasury and the Small Business Administration, in response to pressure from Congress, announced that they would make public the names, identifying data and loan amount ranges for PPP loan recipients. The disclosure will include business names, ZIP codes, business type, demographic data, jobs supported and more.