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06-29-20 | Association News

Lack of Agreement on Infrastructure Bill Causes Conflict

AASHTO Executive Director Calls for Bipartisan Agreement on Legislation

Recently proposed infrastructure and surface transportation bills have not found support from both parties within Congress.

The most recently proposed infrastructure bill, the Moving Forward Act, is asking for $1.5 trillion to go towards a wide range of areas. Some of these areas are not commonly considered infrastructures, such as education and healthcare. While the Moving Forward Act does include the INVEST in America Act, a much-needed surface transportation reauthorization bill, which was moved forward by the house in mid-June, there is polarization on the amount and direction of funding the legislation is requesting.

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The scope of the disagreement has impacted AASHTO as their executive director, Jim Tymon, expressed his disapproval over the lack of agreement. He stated, "While we appreciate... House leadership for recognizing the need to reauthorize the surface transportation programs before the end of this fiscal year through floor consideration of the Move Forward Act, the proposed reauthorization contained in the INVEST in America Act unnecessarily turns back the clock on the bipartisan reforms previously agreed to by Congress."

Tymon noted that he favors the fiscal relief offered to the State Department of Transportations in the bill but continued on to mention the burden it would create in turn. Additionally, he approved of the STARTER Act sharing principles of AASHTO, such as the focus on formula funding programs, allowing state flexibility, and streamlined project delivery. However, Tymon explained that "these critical principles are absent in the Move Forward Act. We urge both sides of the political aisle to work together to get this much-needed surface transportation bill over the finish line [and] find bipartisan consensus on diverse issues such as maintaining the flexibility and maximizing the funding of current core formula programs, addressing climate change and resiliency, improving project delivery, focusing on bridge investments, and meeting the infrastructure needs of rural and urban areas."

The current surface transportation funding bill will expire in September, creating a sense of urgency to pass its replacement as quickly as possible. However, as Tymon has reiterated in the above quotes, bipartisan agreement should also be held as a high priority. There could be negative consequences if legislation is passed without the support of both parties.

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