FIRST LOOK: Senate Unveils Massive 2,700-Page $1.2 TRILLION Infrastructure Bill
Washington D.C. – The United States Senate unveiled its more than $1 trillion infrastructure bill in the early morning hours on Monday.
Nearly a week after the Senate advanced its version of an infrastructure bill, it has now released the text of the more than 2,700-page legislation.
The bill calls for roughly $555 billion in new federal spending and will include:
• $110 billion for roads, bridges and major projects,
• $39 billion for transit,
• $11 billion for “transportation safety programs,”
• $66 billion for rail,
• $7.5 billion to build electric vehicle (EV) charging stations,
• $5 billion for zero/low emissions buses,
• $17 billion for ports,
• $25 billion for airports,
• $65 billion for broadband,
• $7.5 billion for zero- and low-emission buses and ferries,
• $73 billion to rebuild the electric grid, and
• $55 billion to upgrade water infrastructure.
The bill would be paid for, in part, by repurposing $205 billion in unused COVID-relief funds and approximately $53 billion from states opting to terminate the pandemic unemployment benefits which are keeping many people from returning to the workforce.
Insurance Minimum Increase
One of the biggest issues trucking stakeholders were watching closely was whether the Senate would include a provision to increase motor carriers’ liability insurance minimum from $750,000 to $2 million.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed its infrastructure bill last month (the INVEST in America Act) which included the massive insurance hike on truckers.
However, the Senate’s bill does not include such a provision.
Automatic Emergency Braking Mandate
The Senate’s bill includes the so-called automatic emergency braking (AEB) system mandate, also passed in the House’s INVEST Act.
The provision requires that the Secretary of the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT), within two years, undertake a rulemaking to require newly manufactured heavy-duty commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) be equipped with an AEB system, and that such systems installed in CMVs be in use during operation.
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One provision not in the INVEST Act, but did make its way into the Senate’s bill is an “Apprenticeship Pilot Program,” which would effectively allow truckers as young as 18 years old to operate in interstate commerce.
The measure calls for the Secretary of Transportation to, within 60 days from enactment, institute a pilot program to allow carriers to create an apprenticeship program for under-21 drivers.
The drivers would have to complete a 400-hour “probationary” period in which he/she would be required to drive for at least 240 hours.
The trucks must be equipped with features such as active braking collision mitigation and forward-facing event recorders.
A speed governor set to 65 mph would also be required.
A trucker with a minimum of two years over-the-road experience and with a clean driving record would also be required to accompany the apprentice (in the passenger seat).
Unfortunately for truckers, the Senate’s bill does not include a measure to provide $1 billion in funds to address the truck parking shortage.
The INVEST Act includes such a provision.
Vote Expected This Week
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) vows to quickly move through the amendment process and get the bill to the Senate floor for a vote this week.
Schumer’s stated goal is to both pass the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill along with a $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill packed with other Democratic spending priorities before the end of the Senate work period, which is Monday, August 9.
TransportationNation.com will be monitoring it closely.