After weeks of negotiations, Congress has passed H.R. 133, a bipartisan end-of-the-year package that not only appropriates funding for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 but, through its COVID stimulus legislation provides to much-needed economic relief to people and sectors impacted by the pandemic.
The $2.3 trillion package included a key ASCE priority, the Water Resources Development Act of 2020 as well as a comprehensive energy package aimed at reducing emissions.
The $1.4 trillion FY 2021 appropriations provisions will fund the government through September 30, 2021, and it provides robust funding for several key programs, such as BUILD grants, transit grants, high-hazard dams, and the state revolving funds.
The COVID Stimulus, Economic Relief Bill
The $900 billion COVID-19 stimulus package was a significant legislative victory for Congress, as they had been unable to develop a bipartisan bill for months. The relief portion of the bill also provides additional funding for the vaccine rollout, stimulus checks of $600 per person for those who qualify, and an additional $300 per week in federal supplemental unemployment payments. There are also several measures that directly impact civil engineers.
Meanwhile, the popular Paycheck Protection Program will receive another $284 billion for loans for small businesses and the COVID stimulus bill clarified a provision that allows businesses to deduct expenses associated with forgiven PPP loans when they file their 2020 taxes.
Infrastructure Funding in the FY 2021 Budget, COVID Stimulus Package
ASCE has been a strong advocate for granting federal assistance to state DOTs., In particular, we requested $37 billion in assistance over the next five years. While Congress’ allocation is short of the full $16 billion request for the current fiscal year, the funding will aid state DOTs to ensure that projects are not further delayed or canceled.
The stimulus package provides:
- $45 billion for the struggling transportation sector, including $16 billion to help airlines maintain their payrolls.
- $14 billion for mass transit.
- $10 billion for state highways.
- $2 billion for airports.
- $1 billion for Amtrak.
In addition, the inclusion of the Water Resources Development Act of 2020 is a significant ASCE legislative victory and ensures that WRDA maintains its biennial schedule. The bill prioritizes investment in our water resources infrastructure systems, which includes levees, dams, inland waterways, and ports. It also includes a long-term ASCE priority, the full expending of the $10 billion balance in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund by 2030.
The bill also includes a comprehensive, bipartisan energy package that would aim to reduce emissions and invest in more energy-efficient infrastructure going forward. And finally, the legislation includes $7 billion to expand broadband access for low-income families in rural communities.
Shortly after the COVID stimulus package passed, ASCE commended Congress for providing relief to American families, state Departments of Transportation (state DOTs), and transit agencies. ASCE looks forward to working with the 117th Congress as they continue focusing on our nation’s infrastructure. We will urge policymakers to prioritize further investments as a means of economic progress going forward.