(Photo credit: Iowa Soybean Association)
Senate passes Infrastructure, Investment, and Jobs Act
August 31, 2021
By Mike Steenhoek, Executive Director of the Soy Transportation Coalition
On August 10, the Senate passed the “Infrastructure, Investment, and Jobs Act” (H.R. 3684) by a vote of 69-30. Nineteen Republican Senators voted for the legislation. The bill provides $548 billion in additional spending. When combined with existing baseline infrastructure spending, total funding for infrastructure will be approximately $944 billion over five years and $1.2 trillion over eight years.
The major funding categories for the legislation are as follows:
Transportation Categories ($284 billion; 52% of new spending):
Roads, bridges, and major projects: $110 billion
(Includes $40 billion for bridge repair, replacement, and rehabilitation)
Passenger & freight rail: $66 billion
Public transit: $39 billion
Airports: $25 billion
Ports and waterways: $17 billion
Safety: $11 billion
Electric vehicle infrastructure: $7.5 billion
Electric/zero emission buses: $5 billion
Electric/zero emission ferries: $2.5 billion
Reconnecting communities: $1 billion
Other Categories ($256 billion; 48% of new spending)
Electric and power infrastructure: $65 billion
High-speed internet: $65 billion
Clean drinking water: $55 billion
Resilience and western water infrastructure: $50 billion
Environmental remediation: $21 billion
The legislation also includes a pilot program initiated by Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD) that will research the benefits of bio-based products for use in construction and other projects. The American Soybean Association, the South Dakota Soybean Association, and others assisted with the legislative language. The Soy Transportation Coalition and other organizations are promoting the use of soy-based concrete and asphalt sealants to elongate the life of roads and bridges in an environmentally sustainable manner. These products also provide an additional marketing opportunity for U.S. soybean farmers. We are pleased to see this language included in the legislation.
We are pleased with the passage of the Infrastructure, Investment, and Jobs Act. A number of the key provisions of the bill – specifically the $110 billion in funding for roads and bridges and the $17 billion for ports and waterways – will clearly enhance the competitiveness of U.S. agriculture. Most Americans agree that infrastructure investment is an appropriate activity of the federal government. Those senators who opposed the legislation primarily cited concerns with the national debt. This is a reasonable concern since the nation clearly has and continues to allocate scarce resources on questionable items that do not provide long term value. We have increasingly become a spending nation vs. an investing nation. When you spend, you allocate resources today in exchange for value today. It’s an immediate gratification. In contrast, when you invest, you allocate resources today in exchange for value tomorrow and beyond. It’s delayed gratification. Constructing or enhancing roads, bridges, locks and dams, ports, etc. is clearing an example of investment as these assets will provide value to the American people for years to come.
The legislation now proceeds to the House of Representatives. Speaker Pelosi continues to contend that the infrastructure bill and the more controversial $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill should be passed in tandem. A vote on the infrastructure bill is currently scheduled in the House for September 27th
To illustrate how these infrastructure investments can have tangible impact at the local level, the replacement of a single bridge that had significant load restrictions can easily save local residents $70,000 - $80,000 annually due to no longer incurring detours.
· Example: a weight restricted bridge results in a 5 mile detour for local semi and truck traffic; 25 trucks are impacted each day
o 125 miles of detour are incurred each day (25 trucks X 5 miles)
o 45,625 miles of detour are incurred each year (125 miles X 365 days)
o If it costs $1.50 - $1.80 per mile to operate the semi, the annual cost of the detour for the single weight restricted bridge is approximately $70,000 - $80,000. These are costs that will be inserted into food delivery and other industries.
Any effort to remedy the thousands of closed or load restricted bridges in the country will save the American taxpayer – especially those in rural areas – significant money.