RAPID REACTION: Trucking Groups, Buttigieg, Trump and More Sound Off on Infrastructure Deal

Washington D.C. — Reaction is already beginning to pour in from around the trucking industry after Congress approved a $1.2 trillion infrastructure spending bill.

Late Friday night, after months of intense negotiations, Congress passed the 2,740-page Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act (IIJA).




 

The IIJA allocates $477 billion in new funding over five years for surface transportation programs with roughly $347 billion authorized for highway projects.

Also included are a host of measures that will impact the trucking community such as the go-ahead to create an apprenticeship program paving the way for truckers as young as 18 years of age to operate cross-country, a mandate requiring newly manufactured heavy-duty commercial motor vehicles be equipped with an automatic emergency braking system, and $125 million to conduct a national vehicle-miles-traveled pilot program — including for commercial truckers.

RAPID REACTION

American Trucking Associations

Within minutes of the bill’s final passage, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) released a statement praising lawmakers.

“Roads and bridges are not political — we all drive on them. A majority in the House realized this today and did what’s right for the country, not themselves,” said Chris Spear, president of ATA. “From farmers to truckers, the millions of hard-working people who make this country great won today.”




 

The group, which represents more than 34,000 motor carriers and industry suppliers, has long-advocated for a provision to allow truck drivers as young as 18-years-old to be permitted to participate in interstate commerce.

ATA has successfully convinced lawmakers that such a provision would ease the much-debated “driver shortage.”

Spear expressed satisfaction that the IIJA will now allow for “an infusion of highly-trained, younger talent into our workforce.”

Truckload Carriers Association

The Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) also welcomed the passage of the IIJA.

“We are excited that this language provides an opportunity to expose a younger demographic to an industry that welcomes them and are pleased with the commitments the bill makes to establishing long-term improvements for infrastructure,” TCA said. “Even more importantly, Congress has heard our message concerning threats to the independent contractor business model and opted not to include any language regarding the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act that would have jeopardized a business practice that has a long history of success in our industry.”

 

Fuel Retailers

The National Association of Truck Stop Owners (NATSO), representing truckstops and travel plazas, SIGMA: America’s Leading Fuel Marketers, and the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) were also quick to applaud Congress.

“We are extraordinarily grateful to the Biden Administration and the Members of Congress from across the ideological spectrum who worked with us on policies to support and encourage investments in alternative transportation energy,” said NATSO President and CEO Lisa Mullings. “We appreciate that Congress has ensured critical funding for America’s highways without tolling Interstate highways or commercializing rest areas, which would have discouraged the private sector from investing in electric vehicle charging and other emerging technologies.”

 

“The policies established by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will go a long way toward encouraging private sector investments in alternative transportation energy,” said Richard Guttman, President of SIGMA.

“Public policy must ensure the private sector can invest in climate solutions in order to make progress,” said NACS President and CEO Henry O. Armour. “The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act does that and will help our industry reduce greenhouse gas emission in transportation and offer consumers alternative cleaner fueling choices.”

Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association

At time of publishing, OOIDA had not yet commented about the IIJA’s final passage.

However, in September the group excoriated Congress for failing to include funding in the bill to address the worsening nationwide truck parking shortage.

“It’s tough to swallow the fact that in a year when Congress is authorizing hundreds-of-billions of dollars for infrastructure projects and highway safety programs, not a single penny was set aside for truck parking,” said Todd Spencer, OOIDA’s president and CEO.

 

“This year, Congress will spend trillions-upon-trillions of dollars on their favorite government programs and initiatives, and not a penny will be devoted to truck parking,” Collin Long, OOIDA’s director of government affairs, recently told Land Line. “Why? Because despite the rhetoric, they simply don’t view the safety of truckers as a priority. What other plausible excuse could there be? You can’t spend trillions of dollars on everything under the sun, then claim there isn’t enough cash to provide any funding for parking. It’s inexcusable.”

Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg

The man leading the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) took to social media to express his thoughts calling the IIJA the most significant investment in American infrastructure in my lifetime.”

“It’s an extraordinary moment — and our team at USDOT stands ready to get to work delivering these resources to create jobs and improve everyday life in communities across America,” Mr. Buttigieg wrote.

Former President Donald J. Trump

After the Senate passed the IIJA back in August, Mr. Trump blasted the Republicans who voted in favor of the bill and decried the legislation as “the beginning of the Green New Deal.”

“I want what’s best for America, not what’s best for the Communist Democrat Party,” he commented. “This will be a big victory for Democrats and be used against the Republicans in the upcoming [mid-term] elections.”




 

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi

“This bill delivers a once-in-a-century investment in our infrastructure, creates good-paying jobs and takes a crucial step to #BuildBackBetter For The People,” Speaker Pelosi wrote.

House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee 

Chairman, Rep. Peter Defazio (D-OR)

“Proud to vote in support of an historic investment in our nation’s infrastructure,” Defazio stated. “I fought for this bill to revitalize our transportation, support the trajectory of our economic recovery, and tackle climate change.”

Member, Rep. Michelle Steel (R-CA)

Rep. Steel strongly opposed the measure, calling it a “massive waste of taxpayer money.”

“This $1.2 trillion spending bill gives billions to California’s failed high-speed rail project, a massive waste of taxpayer money,” Rep. Steel lamented. “It also provides $125 million to roll out a Vehicle Miles Traveled Tax. Make no mistake, on top of the 40% increase in gas prices, this is a double tax & as a tax fighter, I cannot support legislation that raises costs on American families who are already paying record-high prices & even higher taxes.”

Member, Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY)

Rep. Malliotakis was one of four Republicans on the T&I Committee to vote in favor of the IIJA. She took to social media to defend her decision.

“I cast my vote FOR the bipartisan infrastructure bill and AGAINST advancing the socialist spending spree,” she said. “For far too long our leaders have failed to modernize our aging roads, highways & bridges, upgrade sewer systems & implement flood resiliency projects.”

 


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