While the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, a $1.2 trillion infrastructure package, seemed poised to pass the House of Representatives last week, ongoing disagreement between the progressive and centrist wings of the Democratic Party delayed the vote. Progressive Democrats are insisting that the infrastructure bill and a separate reconciliation package with social spending priorities must be passed in tandem. Democrats in the House, Senate, and White House continue to negotiate on a reconciliation package that could range in price from $1.5 trillion to $3.5 trillion.
The $1.2 trillion hard infrastructure bill, which reauthorizes surface transportation programs and provides $550 billion in new federal investments in America's infrastructure over the next five years, previously passed the Senate on a bipartisan basis. The bill would be a historic investment in our nation’s core infrastructure priorities, including highways, roads, bridges, clean water, high speed Internet, transit, passenger rail, and includes a number of provisions beneficial to the RV industry.
“While fixing our roads and bridges on and around our nation’s iconic parks, forests, and gateway communities is a good economic investment for our country generally, these investments will also go a long way to improve the RV consumer experience and increase access to the great outdoors for all Americans,” said RV Industry Association Director of Government Affairs Chris Bornemann. “This essential funding will help deploy critical EV technologies and ensure that current and future RVers are able to travel on safe and adequate roads to access unparalleled outdoor experiences for generations to come.”
The RV Industry Associations Government Affairs Team has been working closely with Congress and the Administration to advance key RV industry priorities as part of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, such as:
- Securing over $7 billion in funding for key federal lands infrastructure programs aimed at improving the roads, bridges, tunnels, parking lots, access points, and other critical transportation-related infrastructure on and around our national parks, forests, and public lands that RVers rely on for safe and adequate outdoor recreation and camping experiences. This includes increased investments for the Federal Lands Transportation Program (25% increase), Federal Lands Access Program (14% increase), and Nationally Significant Federal Lands and Tribal Project Program (355% increase), as well as a new $2 billion grant program.
- Securing $100 million to restore recreation sites, including campgrounds, within the National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service
- Advocating for increased investment in electric vehicle infrastructure, which resulted in an initial $7.5 billion investment to deploy publicly accessible electric vehicle charging infrastructure, hydrogen fueling infrastructure, propane fueling infrastructure, and natural gas fueling infrastructure along highway corridors to facilitate long-distance travel and within communities. Federal funding will have a particular focus on rural, disadvantaged, and hard-to-reach areas where RVers frequently travel.
- Advocating for the creation of a $2 billion grant program to improve and expand surface transportation projects, including enhancing recreational and tourism opportunities by providing increased access to federal lands, national parks, national forests, national recreation areas, national wildlife refuges, wilderness areas, or state parks that RVers visit daily.
The bipartisan infrastructure legislation currently before the House is one part of an ambitious three-part Build Back Better agenda proposed by President Biden. Congress already passed a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package in March. The bipartisan $1.2 trillion “traditional infrastructure” bill is the second piece of President Biden’s economic agenda and a separate reconciliation bill is being prepared that includes President Biden’s American Families Plan.
The reconciliation package includes measures related to climate change, family aid, taxes, and expansions to Medicare. Republicans and centrist Democrats continue to object to the level of spending in the reconciliation bill, originally proposed at $3.5 trillion. Centrist Democrat Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) has said he is willing to go as high as $1.5 trillion and President Biden floated a lower $2.1 trillion price tag over the weekend.
This week, President Biden will be taking his case for both the infrastructure bill and the reconciliation package to the American people. The President expressed confidence that both bills will get passed but declined to set a deadline on when that would happen.