By: Tom Ichniowski, Bruce Buckley, and Pam McFarland
The Biden administration’s legislative ideas are coming into sharper focus, starting with a $1.9-trillion coronavirus “rescue” plan that includes only a small list of construction-related provisions. But what has captured construction executives’ interest is the second item on incoming President Joe Biden’s Capitol Hill agenda: an economic recovery proposal due in February that Biden says will “make historic investments in infrastructure, along with manufacturing, research and development and clean energy.”
The new administration will also seek other legislation and revamp regulatory policies in areas such as the environment and labor relations, industry officials say.
Once the recovery plan is fleshed out in legislative text, it still must win approval on Capitol Hill. Biden’s proposals face a somewhat smoother path there than Democrats feared a few months ago, thanks to wins in Jan. 5 runoffs in two U.S. Senate races in Georgia. The victories resulted in a 50-50 party split in the chamber, where new Vice-President Kamala Harris will hold the tie-breaking vote.
It also gives Democrats the ability, in certain circumstances, to bypass the 60-vote threshold for ending a filibuster by using budget reconciliation, which allows bills to proceed with just a simple majority. The House remains in Democrats’ hands, but with a margin that has narrowed to only 11 votes.
A Senate controlled by Democrats means “change in chairmanships, change in staff and change in priorities,” says Michele Stanley, National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association vice president for government and regulatory affairs. Democrats’ slim Senate majority “means these priorities will not be accomplished without a lot of consensus,” Stanley adds.
Steve Hall, American Council of Engineering Companies’ senior vice president for advocacy, says Democrats’ Senate edge “allows [Biden] I think to be a bit more aggressive and to shape the start of the conversation—in terms of the legislative agenda—more to his liking.” But Hall says, “The president is going to need Republicans on his side to move the big stuff forward that becomes law.”
Continue reading on ENR.com