Infrastructure Bill Passes

– by Lynne Brandon

The historic Infrastructure Bill has passed. What does that mean for the industry?

It was a big week in Washington when the long-awaited infrastructure bill was passed on November 5, 2021. The historic Infrastructure bill carries the largest investment and price tag in U.S. history ($1.2 trillion) since the Eisenhower administration. The bill is now headed to President Biden for his signature.

The bill has potential for the plumbing and HVAC trades according to PHCC National’s Director of Legislative Affairs, Mark Valentini. The bill is transportation heavy with about 50 percent of the cost attributed toward surface transportation projects (highways, airports, etc.), with the rest focused on non-highway infrastructure, including:

  • $55 billion for water infrastructure, including lead pipe replacement and mitigation of lead contamination;
  • $47 billion for building resiliency projects;
  • $73 billion for increasing capacity of the electric grid; and
  • $5 billion for western U.S. water storage.

At this current juncture, PHCC National is most excited about the water infrastructure and building resiliency components as well as the opportunities for contractors for peripheral projects related to construction.

The trillion-dollar public investment is expected to provide many opportunities for contractors to compete for projects. Private sector projects that will likely come from the investment have the potential to put more contractors to work in both the residential and commercial sectors.

Plumbing contractors can expect opportunities to compete for contracts resulting from investments in water infrastructure, while plumbing and HVAC contractors can expect similar on the building resiliency side.

The workforce development investment in the legislation did not provide for apprenticeship programs to the degree hoped for by PHCC National, as most of the workforce provisions benefit transportation. The bill’s only apprenticeship provision is for the trucking industry’s three-year apprentice program for Class-A truck drivers. WIOA grants and other workforce programs are always is available but the group wants to see more done. “We want to make sure the entire workforce has the skills they need,” said Valentini. “We would have liked to see more training for the building trades in the infrastructure bill.”

More industry news is still to come with the uncertainty of the passing of the Build Back Better (BBB) package ($1.75 trillion), and related concerns such as the tax increases in the bill, which will impact PHCC contractors. “While we were disappointed that the two bills were tied together, the bill passing relieves some pressure on Congressional moderates to support the Build Back Better plan and the tax increases it proposes,” said Valentini.

Source: PHCC-National Association and Director of Legislative Affairs, Mark Valentini

Washington DC