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Major Infrastructure Bill Passes in the House, Includes TDM

Posted: 07/13/2021
Category: Public Policy

On July 1st, the House of Representatives approved the $715 billion five-year INVEST in America Act with a vote of 221-201. The measure would dedicate $343 billion to roads, bridges and safety, $109 billion to transit, and $95 billion to passenger and freight rail. It would also commit $117 billion to drinking water infrastructure and over $51 billion to wastewater infrastructure.

Introduced by Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Chair of the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and Chair of the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Donald M. Payne, Jr. (D-NJ), the bill included definitions for transportation demand management (TDM) and TDM strategies, making TDM projects eligible for federal grants.

“We'd like to thank Chairman DeFazio, Representative Garcia and all of our members who helped in our efforts to incorporate this important language”, said David Straus, Executive Director of ACT.  “The codification of definitions for TDM and TDM Strategies will bring more avenues and opportunities for funding to our members and elevate TDM as an important solution to many of our country’s greatest transportation problems.”

The bill features measures designed to cut greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector and build resiliency & equity into existing infrastructure. The bill offers $14.5 billion for projects aimed at reducing carbon emissions or make transportation networks more resistant to extreme weather and requires that states consider alternatives such as transit before widening highways. An amendment, introduced by Rep. Garcia, would make clarifying and technical changes to the further advance the use of TDM within the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ)  program was adopted within the bill.

For Chairman DeFazio, the environmental aspects are very much the heart of this legislation. Over the past week, much of the U.S. has been experiencing a historical heat wave, pushing temperatures over 110 degrees Fahrenheit in DeFazio’s home state of Oregon. The bill aims to significantly cut emissions from the country’s largest polluting sector and also includes ambitious updates to water infrastructure like replacing all lead water lines in the country.

After a two-week recess, the Senate is returning with a lot on its agenda. Last month, President Biden worked with a bipartisan group of Senators to outline an infrastructure plan, which DeFazio says is close enough to the House bill that he sees potential for an agreement, though “what their framework lacks is policy. My bill is the transformative policy that the Biden administration wants.” With the deadline for transportation reauthorization being September 30th, Senate Majority Leader Schumer is a full vote before the August recess.

ACT continues to push for the inclusion of TDM definitions & strategies in transportation authorization and will have more opportunities to get involved with the Senate infrastructure package in the coming weeks. TDM is an effective strategy for reducing carbon emissions while efficiently using existing transportation infrastructure with the ultimate goal of creating a transportation network that moves all people efficiently and affordably.

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