After a 19-hour markup that ended early this morning, the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee voted favorably to report the INVEST in America Act (H.R. 3684) out of committee by a margin of 38-26. The INVEST in America Act is a five-year surface transportation reauthorization proposal to replace the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST Act), which expires Sep. 30, 2021.
Soy and agricultural-related provisions in the INVEST in America Act include:
- Authorization of $547 billion over the next five years, a nearly 80% increase in funding when compared to the FAST Act; this includes a $343 billion investment in roads and bridges
- Targeting $1 billion over five years for discretionary grants to rebuild and repair rural bridges
- Increasing the motor carriers’ minimum insurance requirements from $750,000 to $2 million
- Dedicating $8.3 billion for reducing carbon pollution and $6.2 billion for climate change mitigation and resiliency improvements
- Creating a 15% set-aside for projects in rural areas through the Surface Transportation Program
- Establishing a $600 million annual grant program to support local investment in transportation infrastructure improvement projects (including a 25% set-aside for rural communities)
- Directing the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study the equity impacts of a per-mile user fee system, including the impact on urban versus rural areas
- Including nearly $5.7 billion in earmarked projects, including many in soy-producing states
The bill will now be sent to the House floor, where it is expected to be voted on before the July 4 recess. It will likely not be considered in the Senate. Before the vote, the House Ways & Means Committee will need to deliberate the funding portion of the bill.
ASA Policy Corner
Prior to the markup, ASA sent a letter to the House T&I Committee to share the key infrastructure priorities for America’s soybean farmers related to surface transportation.
Along with other members of the Agricultural Transportation Working Group (ATWG), ASA explicitly opposed the provision that increases the minimum amount of insurance required for commercial motor vehicles from $750,000 to $2 million, which was included in the INVEST in America Act. The group also opposed the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) review and revision of the current hours of service (HOS) rules, including agricultural exemptions. In a letter to the T&I Committee, ATWG stated that the following provisions would add unnecessary costs to the U.S. agricultural supply chain and reduce U.S. agriculture’s international competitiveness.