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Highway Bill Narrowly Passes House, Goes to Senate
July 6, 2021 by NAPA Government Affairs
The House of Representatives on July 1 passed a surface transportation bill, H.R. 3684, the INVEST in America Act, along a largely party-line vote of 221 yeas – 201 nays that included two Republicans, Chris Smith (NJ) and Brian Fitzpatrick (PA). 

House Amendments & Buy America 
The provision to broaden Buy America to include highway construction materials was modified by an amendment offered by Chairman DeFazio. Based on recommendations from NAPA and other highway material groups, the amendment requires a study on supply chain impacts – including cost, domestic availability, transportation and logistical issues, and environmental impacts – before the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) promulgates a regulation on Buy America. The amendment also requires the Office of Inspector General to review the study’s findings and submit a report to Congress. 

The House approved a second amendment offered by Garrett Graves (R-LA), after it was modified at the request of NAPA and the Louisiana Asphalt Pavement Association (LAPA). Originally, the amendment would have required FHWA to issue guidance to transportation agencies to include weather-based factors in a life-cycle cost analysis (LCCA) to demonstrate resiliency in roadway pavements. The amended and approved measure does not require inputs on weather factors in an LCCA. 

What’s Next in the Senate? 
The Senate will now consider S. 1931, the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act, which contains the Federal-aid Highway portion of reauthorization and was approved unanimously by the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on May 27. Since then, a group of moderate Senators reached agreement with President Biden on a bipartisan infrastructure framework that needs to be spliced into S. 1931. With the Senate in recess through July 9, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) indicated he would like to bring the bill up for a floor vote the week beginning July 12. 

Meanwhile, discussions on how to deal with Buy America have begun in the Senate. NAPA and the National Stone, Sand, and Gravel Association (NSSGA) met with the staff of Tammy Baldwin (D-NY), the Senate sponsor of Buy America legislation. It appears that Buy America will be included in the Senate infrastructure bill. NAPA and NSSGA were apprised that Senators took a wait-and-see approach on how the House addressed Buy America before the Senate makes any final decisions. NAPA continues to work aggressively to seek an exemption for asphalt, aggregates, and cement in any Buy America legislation that emerges in the Senate.
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