In a vote of 69-30 (with one senator absent), the United States Senate has voted to pass H.R. 3684, also known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 or the INVEST in America Act. What does the bill entail, and how are truckers affected should it pass the House of Representatives?
H.R. 3684 Details
The bill is about half the amount that Joe Biden proposed before, at one trillion dollars. The legislation reauthorizes $450 billion in continued spending on current programs while also authorizing $550 billion in new spending.
The new funds include:
- $110 billion towards roads and bridges.
- $66 billion to rail.
- $40 billion to other forms of transit.
- $65 billion for energy production and infrastructure.
- $50 for disaster defense (cyberattack and natural).
- $7.5 billion for public electrical charging stations for electric vehicles.
The money is planned to be raised through various methods, such as repurposing COVID-19 funds, auctioning off wireless spectrum space for various businesses such as cell phone and radio, and by adding an estimated $256 billion to the federal deficit over the next ten years.
Beyond spending, the bill also contains new provisions for the trucking industry, such as:
- The establishment of a Women in Trucking Advisory Board.
- Allowing drivers under age 21 to cross state lines, under specific circumstances.
- Stronger standards for, and a committee regarding, rear trailer underride guards, as well as a demand for more research on side underride guards.
- A study for direct causes of, and indirect factors that contribute to, crashes involving trucks and buses.
Just as important as what is in the bill is what is not: the Senate bill does not include an increase on minimum insurance requirements, which was included in a version of the bill passed in the House in July. Additionally, there appears to be no sign of challenging the changes to the hours-of-service rules set in September of last year, as there was in a previous incarnation of the bill.
While both chambers of Congress have approved of a version of the bill, the two chambers must agree on identical terms before it can be brought across the presidential desk. The House is currently out on recess until September 20th, so all things are shelved until then.
In the period of the 116th Congress, we wrote about how the INVEST in America Act would not become law. With changes and negotiations happening in the 117th Congress to make the bill more bipartisan, it may very well be on its way.
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