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July 14, 2021 12:15 PM, EDT

Mayors, Freight Firms Press Congress, Biden on Infrastructure Bill

Ed Mortimer Broad bipartisan support for infrastructure investment demonstrates the need for Senate action on a highway bill,” says Ed Mortimer, vice president of transportation infrastructure at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. (Eleanor Lamb/Transport Topics)

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Mayors representing the country’s major cities are calling on members of Congress and the White House to approve big-picture policies meant to fund infrastructure projects for several years.

The local lawmakers with the U.S. Conference of Mayors are the latest stakeholders to urge federal action on major infrastructure legislation. Coalitions representing freight companies, labor unions, and retail and manufacturing sectors also have pressed Congress on infrastructure-centric issues.

Nearly every stakeholder is arguing large investments targeting transportation improvement projects would facilitate the flow of freight locally, as well as regionally. The groups point specifically to a $1.2 trillion infrastructure policy framework the White House announced in June, which garnered bipartisan backing from about two dozen senators.

Conference of Mayors Letter by Transport Topics on Scribd

“The Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework is crucial to making meaningful progress on one of the most pressing and unifying challenges facing our country: the need for comprehensive investment in public transportation, roads, bridges, passenger and freight rail, drinking water and wastewater, clean energy and electrification, legacy pollution cleanup, cyberattack and extreme weather resiliency, and universal broadband access,” the U.S. Conference of Mayors wrote congressional leaders July 13.

“We believe that this framework deserves bipartisan support in the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives,” the mayors added.

Separately, this month an influential bloc of freight stakeholders again called on Congress to approve a multitrillion-dollar infrastructure policy package. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, along with about two dozen associations representing the trucking industry, the construction sector, labor unions and manufacturers, established the Coalition for Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment.

Chuck Schumer

Schumer

The coalition points to the potential momentum surrounding an infrastructure package on Capitol Hill. The $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan garnered the endorsement of the bipartisan House Problem Solvers Caucus. The 58-member caucus unveiled a $1.25 trillion, eight-year infrastructure spending framework earlier this year. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he plans to schedule a measure on the chamber’s floor this summer.

“We continue to see support grow for a bipartisan infrastructure solution. The launch of the Coalition for Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment, the support of the House Problem Solvers [Caucus] and endorsement by 359 mayors in all 50 states shows the broad support for Senate action … on this critical issue for economic growth and improved quality of life for every American,” Ed Mortimer, vice president of transportation infrastructure at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, told Transport Topics, adding, “Let’s get to work.”

“We urge Congress to turn this framework into legislation that will be signed into law, and our organizations are committed to helping see this cross the finish line. Enacting significant infrastructure legislation, including investments in our roads, bridges, ports, airports, transit, rail, water and energy infrastructure, access to broadband and more, is critical to our nation and will create middle-class family sustaining jobs,” the coalition stated July 8. “Don’t let partisan differences get in the way of action. Pass significant, meaningful infrastructure legislation now.”

Coalition members include the Business Roundtable, National Association of Manufacturers, the AFL-CIO, the National Retail Federation, the American Association of Port Authorities, the American Council of Engineering Companies, the American Public Transportation Association, American Road and Transportation Builders Association, the American Society of Civil Engineers and American Trucking Associations.

ATA Executive Vice President of Advocacy Bill Sullivan told TT: “Roads and freight aren’t partisan, and ATA strongly supports investment to upgrade and modernize the roads, bridges and infrastructure supporting our economy.”

Bill Sullivan

Sullivan

“We are proud to stand with so many in the business and labor community calling on Congress to do their job and pass an infrastructure bill that will provide immense benefits for our entire nation,” Sullivan said.

Several months ago, the chamber led the “Build by the Fourth of July’’ coalition. After a bipartisan group of about two dozen senators and the Biden White House announced their agreement on a $1.2 trillion infrastructure framework, the business advocacy firm congratulated the policymakers.

“With its significant and well-targeted investments in surface transportation, transforming electric vehicle infrastructure, expanding access and improving affordability of broadband internet and more, the bipartisan framework is consistent with the goals put forth in January by the ‘Build by the Fourth of July’ coalition,” the chamber stated this month.

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