Congressional Update

This week, President Biden walked back his previous statements tying the success of a bipartisan infrastructure package to a partisan reconciliation bill. President Biden said he would sign the bipartisan package on its own with or without a larger reconciliation package, which reassured Senate Republicans who expressed immediate concern that the White House negotiated in bad faith and was holding the bipartisan package hostage.

President Biden and White House officials have since been traveling the country and meeting with Members of Congress to sell the deal. President Biden also clarified in a news conference this week that the reconciliation package would be for items specifically not included in the bipartisan package and would not be used to simply increase funding for items that are included in the bipartisan package.

Democrats remain divided on the size and scope of a potential reconciliation deal — while Senate Budget Committee Chair Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is set to prepare a $6 trillion reconciliation package, moderate Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) states he is open to a reconciliation package that ranges from $1 to $2 trillion. House Democrats and Republicans have expressed concern that the proposed bipartisan package may not have the votes to pass absent House Republican support.

The House passed the “Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation (INVEST) in America Act,” a $715 billion surface transportation reauthorization and water infrastructure bill, on a mostly party-line vote of 221-201. Prior to markup, EMA worked directly with Congressman Schrader (D-OR) as he introduced Amendment #243 which would ensure small businesses have an opportunity to access federal grant funding under the Clean Corridors Program by reserving 1/3 of clean corridors grant funding for businesses with fewer than five hundred employees and, for businesses with fewer than 100 employees, set aside $100 million of grant funds.

Meanwhile, EMA, along with NATSO, SIGMA and NACS, supported Amendments #70 and $71 offered by Congressman Rick Larsen (D-WA), Lou Correa (D-CA), Randy Feenstra (R-IA), Mike Gallagher (R-WI), Kevin Hern (R-OK), Dusty Johnson (R-SD), Ron Kind (D-WI), Peter Meijer (R-MI) and Tom Reed (R-NY) that would have removed provisions that would allow electric vehicle (EV) charging at rest areas and on the Interstate right-of-way. The amendments also would have directed Congress to study the effect that commercial services at rest areas would have on off-highway businesses and local communities while also allowing states to offer EV charging at park and ride facilities.

Despite these efforts, the House Rules Committee did not vote on these amendments. While small business protections are not included in the House-passed version, opportunities remain in the Senate and when the two bills go to Conference for final resolution. “We thank Congressmen Schrader and Larsen for supporting small business marketers across the country and we look forward to working with these offices to get these amendments included into a final infrastructure package,” said EMA President Rob Underwood.

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