Infrastructure Bill Passes House
After much debate, the House of Representatives passed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill (BIF) late last week, which is expected to be signed into law by the President next week. The $1.2 trillion bill passed the Senate last summer. The legislation has been held up as a bargaining tool by progressive Members of the House Democratic Caucus to have Democratic Leadership and the President include their social spending priorities in the separate reconciliation package. However, the reconciliation package, also known as Build Back Better, continues to negotiated as moderate Members of the House Democratic Caucus refuse to vote on the legislation until the Congressional Budget Office isses a "score" of the legislation's cost.
The BIF focuses primarily on traditional infrastructure, but does include $3.4 billion for wildfire mitigation and $2.1 billion for ecosystem restoration. Additionally, the pilot program will allow for commercial drivers 18-20 years old to participate in a 280-hour apprenticeship program to drive trucks across state lines was also included in the bill. However, the total number of participants is limited to 3,000 drivers at any one time. Data collected from the three year pilot will be used to make a recommendation to Congress, "based on the data collected, regarding whether the level of safety achieved by the pilot program is equivalent to, or greater than, the level of safety for equivalent commercial motor vehicle drivers aged 21 years or older."