Photo Credit: Mario Tama via Getty Images

Construction Dive reported last week, “The U.S. is one step closer to a massive, much-needed infrastructure spending package.” The Senate voted last Wednesday to advance a bipartisan bill, which includes $550 billion in new federal funding for infrastructure. The bill will now enter a process of debates and amendments. Should the bill pass, it would inject funding into transportation, utilities and broadband spending. Senators voted to advance the package 67-32, with 17 Republicans joining all 48 Senate Democrats — and two Independents who caucus with the Democrats — in favor of advancing it.

According to the White House, while the bipartisan bill is less than what was original proposed, it still represents the largest federal investment in public transit ever and the largest dedicated bridge investment since the construction of the interstate highway system.

Still subject to change — here are highlights of the bill:

  • $110 billion for roads, bridges and other major infrastructure projects.
  • $66 billion to eliminate the Amtrak maintenance backlog and modernize rail service in the Northeast corridor.
  • $40 billion for bridge repair, replacement and rehabilitation.
  • $25 billion for airport project needs, including repair and maintenance backlogs and modernization and emission reduction.
  • $17.5 billion for projects too complex for traditional funding programs.
  • $17 billion for port infrastructure projects.
  • $11 billion for transportation safety.
  • $1 billion on community reconnection, often among disproportionately Black neighborhoods divided by highways and other infrastructure.

The bill also includes measures to support electric vehicles, clean drinking water and bringing high speed internet to millions of Americans.

According to CNBC, the Senate finished the text of bipartisan infrastructure bill after a rare weekend session. Yesterday’s development was a culmination of months of negotiations between several groups of senators and the White House. Leaders are hopeful to pass the bill by the end of this week.

What does this mean for the metal construction industry?

Last month, members from top US industrial metal trade associations lobbied leaders of Congress on June 11 to unite and continue work with President Joe Biden in efforts to pass a metals-intensive infrastructure spending bill that will make “historic investments” towards the nation’s construction initiatives. Infrastructure spending in the US will especially boost a domestic metals industry that has been damaged by global overcapacity and unfair trading practices.

Signs point to increased steel demand with the new infrastructure plan. Bloomberg reports a key steel product used in construction and automobiles reached a record last week as the current administration pushed ahead with his infrastructure spending plans. “Commodities from steel to iron ore to copper have gained strongly this year, partly on bets that massive U.S. government spending to rebuild infrastructure including railroads, highways and bridges as economies reopen from the pandemic will boost demand.”

When METALCON meets in person, October 6-8, be sure to join Ken Simonson, chief economist for The Associated General Contractors of America, when he presents an update on the implications of the infrastructure bill in his Keynote Address: U.S. Construction Outlook: Pandemic Impacts, Policy Initiatives, Project Implications. REGISTER prior to August 27 to save $25!