The U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee recently advanced the INVEST in America Act, a comprehensive bill designed to revitalize America’s aging infrastructure, accelerate the U.S. economic recovery, and help America transition to a clean transportation future.
According toRep. Tom Malinowski, the bill, a core piece of President Joe Biden’s American Jobs Plan, will invest hundreds of billions of dollars in America’s roads, bridges, tunnels, railways, and transit systems; creates good-paying jobs while meeting the challenge of climate change; and includes several of the congressman’s legislative initiatives to fund the Gateway Program.
“I came to Congress to get something done for New Jersey commuters struggling to get to work each day, and got on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for that purpose,” said Malinowski on June 10 the day the bill was passed by the House committee.
Investing in America’s Infrastructure
The bills advancement comes during a time where an agreement on infrastructure between a group of 10 Democrats and Republicans was reached. Recently, the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus released a bipartisan plan in hopes of reaching a compromise.
The INVEST in America Act includes 13 project proposals authored by Malinowski, which would bring just under $19.8 million in federal funds directly to New Jersey’s 7th District for local infrastructure projects. These include congestion relief projects in Somerset County, bridge rehabilitation and New Jersey Transit station improvement projects in Union County, and truck safety and pedestrian walkway projects in Morris County.
Additionally, the committee adopted an amendment from Malinowski to support the development and deployment of construction materials that capture and store greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.
Addressing Climate Change
The congressman has stated carbon capture and storage will need to be a central part of any comprehensive strategy to address climate change, and the amendment will help states develop the standards they need to procure and use these materials as they become available.
Among other provisions, the INVEST in America Act:
- Creates a Projects of National and Regional Significance program, which provides more than $12 billion for projects, like Gateway, that are too large and complex for full funding under existing programs;
- Includes more than $20 billion for the Capital Investment Grant program, the government’s main source of grant funding for public transit programs like Gateway;
- Triples funding for Amtrak, allowing for enhanced service and new investments along the Northeast Corridor (NEC) and National networks. The bill includes record-high funding for the NEC;
- Invests billions of dollars in electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure, helping the U.S. shift to the next generation of clean vehicles. The bill as well directs U.S. federal agencies to establish standards and guidance on EV charging stations, including training of technicians, network connectivity, and physical and payment interoperability;
- Includes measures related to automatic emergency braking and underride guards to improve truck and highway safety; and
- Devotes $4 billion for zero-emission bus grants—an average annual increase of 1,500 percent over the funding levels in the previous surface transportation authorization bill.
Helping with Financing
Additionally, the proposed law makes it easier for states to finance their portion of infrastructure projects and ensures that highly-flammable liquified natural gas is not moved through crowded neighborhoods in rail tank cars that are ill-equipped to safely carry it.
Surface transportation programs in the U.S. are currently authorized through Sept. 30, 2021. The INVEST in America Act reauthorizes surface transportation programs through FY 2026.
The bill addresses other safety-related issues that Malinowski has championed as a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, including provisions to ensure that frontline transit workers have strong workplace safety protections in place; that Amtrak’s police force is adequately staffed; and that freight trains are prohibited from blocking highway-rail grade crossings for extended periods of time, which can inconvenience commuters and prevent first responder vehicles from quickly reaching those in need.
“This bill funds New Jersey’s core highway and transit needs, including the Gateway project, while capitalizing on the enormous economic opportunity before us to lead the global transition to a clean energy future,” statedMalinowski.