ABC: Partisan House-passed Infrastructure Package hurts American workers and small businesses

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WASHINGTON, D.C.—Associated Builders and Contractors strongly opposes H.R. 3684, the INVEST in America Act, a partisan infrastructure bill that passed the U.S. House of Representatives today by a vote of 221-201. H.R. 3684 is a $715 billion surface transportation reauthorization and water infrastructure bill that represents House Democrat’s attempt to reauthorize the expiring 2015 Fast Act.

“House Democrats’ INVEST in America Act represents a dangerous step in the wrong direction for America’s infrastructure,” said Kristen Swearingen, ABC vice president of legislative & political affairs.

“This bill would enact policies that discriminate against the 87% of the construction industry that chooses not to affiliate with a union through government-mandated project labor agreements on certain projects,” Swearingen said. “Mandating PLAs restricts experienced contractors and skilled local employees, including women, minorities and veterans, from competing for taxpayer-funded construction contracts.

“Instead of focusing on bipartisan solutions to invest in America’s infrastructure, House Democrats chose an amendment process that adds several anti-merit shop provisions, including government-mandated PLAs and Davis-Bacon prevailing wage requirements,” Swearingen said. “House Democrats also failed to recognize the widespread success of industry-recognized apprenticeship programs by elevating the government-registered apprenticeship program as the preferred method of workforce development. These provisions would ultimately undermine efforts to address the construction industry’s skilled workforce shortage, which is estimated to be 430,000 skilled workers in 2021 alone. Further, this partisan process did not afford an up-or-down vote on these controversial amendments, instead packaging them together to help ensure passage.

“While this bill is not expected to become law and is separate from the bipartisan infrastructure negotiations that have occurred with the White House and U.S. senators, ABC urges Congress to oppose this partisan language and support language included in the Senate’s bipartisan and ABC-supported Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act of 2021,” Swearingen said. “ABC maintains that the path forward on infrastructure should be rooted in fair and open competition and equal opportunity—not anti-competitive mandates that exclude the majority of contractors from rebuilding America’s infrastructure with costly policies and ineffective regulations.”

Democrats also used the en bloc amendment process that prevents consideration of each amendment based on its individual merit and helps ensure support for controversial amendments, including an amendment from Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) that would mandate project labor agreements on authorized clean energy projects.

Ahead of the vote, ABC sent a key vote letter to the U.S. House of Representatives in opposition to the bill and urged ABC members to contact their members of Congress and tell them to oppose the legislation through an ABC Action Alert.