On August 10, the U.S. Senate passed the Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act (IIJA), H.R. 3684, in a 69-30 vote. The bipartisan infrastructure legislation would provide $973 billion over five years from FY 2022 through FY 2026, including $550 billion in new investments for all modes of transportation, water, power and energy, environmental remediation, public lands, broadband and resilience. The U.S. House of Representatives has pledged to take up the legislation by September 27 in tandem with a larger $3.5 billion reconciliation package.
The IIJA would direct $284 billion in above baseline spending toward all modes of transportation and $266 billion for other infrastructure sectors. As is the case in the American Jobs Plan and past proposals from Senate Republicans, the IIJA would direct most of its investments—nearly 52 percent—toward modernizing and making improvements to transportation infrastructure with the majority of funding reserved for highways, roads and bridges.
In addition to establishing a new, long-term surface transportation reauthorization, the IIJA has major provisions of interest to Oregon county road departments, including:
- Increases funding to the Federal Lands Access Program (FLAP), but also increases the USDOT planning set-aside from five percent to 20 percent, potentially resulting in a funding decrease to the Oregon FLAP program (estimated $15.6 million decrease over FAST Act level)—See OACES letter advocating for increased FLAP Investment
- Extends the Secure Rural Schools (SRS) program for three years, ending the annual five percent SRS funding reduction and increases funding to Federal Fiscal Year 2017 levels
- Significantly increases the number of competitive grant opportunities via supplemental appropriations to the U.S. Department of Transportation
- Creates a new population band within the Surface Transportation Block Grant for communities between 50,000 and 200,000 to allow for a more equitable sub allocation of funds
- Establishes a new competitive grant program for local governments to address and eliminate at-grade rail crossings
- Creates a new, $40 billion Bridge Investment Program, which off-system bridges would be eligible for, to repair, replace and rehabilitate the nation’s bridges
- Codifies elements of the Trump Administration’s “One Federal Decision” that would require one federal agency to be responsible for issuing a decision resulting from a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review, among other reforms, such as limiting the allowable number of pages for a decision
- Increases project cost thresholds for categorical exclusions, thereby making more projects eligible for streamlining
The framework would be paid for, through a variety of sources such as $205 billion repurposed COVID relief funds, but fails to address the solvency of the Highway Trust Fund, requiring a $118 billion bailout from the general fund of the U.S. Treasury to fund highway and transit programs.
For more information, see the new NACo Federal Transportation and Infrastructure Policy Hub. NACo encourages counties to utilize the new Policy Hub, especially as the U.S. House of Representatives prepares to consider the IIJA later this month.