Legal and Regulatory

Can Congress Finally Agree on a Bipartisan Infrastructure Package?

On June 24, a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators and the White House reached an agreement on a framework for an infrastructure package that would provide approximately $1 trillion to address the needs of the nation’s most critical infrastructure.
By Peter Comstock
June 24, 2021
Topics
Legal and Regulatory

On June 24, a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators and the White House reached an agreement on a framework for an infrastructure package that would provide approximately $1 trillion to address the needs of the nation’s most critical infrastructure, including roads, bridges, and broadband services for Americans. Should Congress and President Joe Biden move forward and enact a significant federal investment for the nation’s infrastructure into law, it would be a significant bipartisan victory at a time of heightened partisanship in Washington.

While there is agreement on the framework, significant work still needs to be done, including ensuring support from at least 60 U.S. Senators and a majority of the U.S. House. Additionally, President Biden, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), have all stated that the bipartisan plan cannot move forward without an agreement on a two-pronged approach that includes budget reconciliation to support Democratic funding priorities, which may make the agreement hard for many Republicans to swallow, disrupting the bipartisan process.

Further complicating matters, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) has proposed a $6 trillion budget resolution to compete with the $4 trillion plan outlined by the president. Sen. Sanders' proposal also calls for enacting the so-called Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act under the budget reconciliation process, which would have a severe impact on the construction industry. It is, however, uncertain that the PRO Act could survive scrutiny under reconciliation requirements.

Though in the minority, support from Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell may also be key to ensuring passage of the package when it is all said and done, and neither the American Jobs Plan nor American Families Plan are fully supported by Republicans. Besides the inclusion of labor requirements, the plans include roll backs of Republicans signature tax bill of 2017, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

Concerns also remain regarding the new tax proposals and a potential phase out or roll back of Section 199A that provides a 20% tax deduction for S corporations, and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, is drafting such a proposal.

"Any infrastructure package should ensure that small construction businesses, which make up 99% of the industry, flourish through fair and open competition, which means the Biden administration and Congress must avoid enacting partisan policies such as the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, government-mandated project labor agreements and a one-size-fits-all approach to workforce development," says Associated Builders and Contractors President and CEO Michael Bellaman in a press release regarding the infrastructure agreement. "A bipartisan deal should mean everyone is welcome to rebuild America, regardless of whether they are affiliated with a labor union."

As Congress continues to work toward this significant investment in the nation’s infrastructure that has eluded them for decades, the construction industry is hopeful a common sense, bipartisan agreement can be reached and stands ready to do the work needed to modernize the country and build its communities for generations to come.

by Peter Comstock

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