Many of you have heard that the Senate reached a compromise on a bill that will guide the future of US transportation policy and investments with the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. This bill is big and has a lot to like, there are also parts that raise concerns. The bill provides 60% more funding for Safe Routes to School and Transportation Alternatives and makes part of the funding spent on safety projects eligible to be used in these two important areas. There is a historic amount of funding for transit including better opportunities to use the funding for operations, there is a recalibration of intercity passenger rails and their importance in our overall transportation network again with historic levels of funding. Senators Crapo and Risch were both very supportive of these increases and supported the bill overall.
There is also a historic amount of funding for the business as usual of maintaining and expanding highways with much of the same policy and less local control than many were asking. This creates the potential that the increase in traffic deaths, congestion, and generally poor state of repair will continue as the policies in place have led to the state we are in today and more money may not do much more than pay for more of the same. Additionally, there is a lower funding increase for recreational trails, money that has an outsized impact on Idaho.
After the Senate passed the infrastructure bill, they also passed a budget resolution that starts the process for considering President Biden’s American Job Plan and American Families Plan. Now it’s the House’s turn to take action where both are now begin considered. The House interrupted their August recess to start deliberations and committee work related to these bills. They have agreed to take a vote on the Infrastructure package no later than September 27. The House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee is tasked to mark up the transportation components of the Infrastructure package, likely making only modest changes. If the Senate agrees to those changes the legislation will be forwarded to the President for signature. If you want to comment, now is the time to contact your House members.