Infrastructure policy discussions in Washington, D.C. – including the need to reauthorize the current surface transportation law – were front and center throughout September. With the latest action happening this week as the U.S. House of Representatives voted to fund the government through December 11 this year, which included a one-year extension of current surface transportation authorization funding levels. The U.S. Senate is expected to vote imminently on the legislation.

It’s a big reason why AEM’s leadership and staff spent much of the month advocating on several fronts, from panel discussions to grassroots activities and coalition letters to congressional leaders, to build support for infrastructure policies that will help equipment manufacturers.

Recently, AEM co-sponsored a webinar with ENO Center for Transportation on September 16 titled, “Transportation Spending and Planning in the Time of COVID.” The virtual panel discussion featured AEM Board Chair Jeff Reed as the various issue experts covered new approaches to understanding and addressing the challenges the public health crisis and economic recession bring to transportation funding and planning. Reed was joined by four other speakers: Rodney Slater, Partner, Squire Patton Boggs, and Former U.S. Secretary of Transportation; Joshua Schank, Chief Innovation Officer, Los Angeles County Metro; Alan Pisarski, Independent Consultant; and Robert Puentes, President and CEO, Eno Center for Transportation.

“The biggest problem I see is we do not have a system in transportation how we renew these bills on a regular basis,” said Reed during the panel discussion. “We have an end of the month transportation bill that’s probably going to be renewed but kicked down the road again. We haven’t had a new bill to cover transportation in a long, long time. I just don’t see politically where we’re going. It creates a problem of investment for most agencies of where you’re going to put your money. How do you plan for the future when you’re basically planning on a yearly basis? We need a longer-term aspect to see better where the money is going to come from. We need a better answer on how we’re going to finance.” The panel was highlighted by United for Infrastructure as it continued to raise attention around infrastructure issues during its annual Infrastructure Week (Sept 14-21). Watch the full discussion.

Elsewhere, AEM’s Senior Director of Government Relations Kate Fox Wood moderated United For Infrastructure’s “Built to Last” panel, which was featured during United for Infrastructure’s annual week of activities amplifying infrastructure issues, this year titled “A Week to Champion America’s Infrastructure.” The panel discussed several important questions, including "What shifts are you seeing in the way that cities, counties, and states are approaching road construction?" and "The pandemic has accelerated a lot of trends across the economy. What’s changing in the infrastructure sector, both over the short term and over the long haul?"  

The September 2 panel featured Scott Edgecombe, President Americas, Tensar; Tony Fassino, Vice President of our Building Construction Products Division, Caterpillar; Jeffrey P. Heilstedt, Senior Vice President and National Director of Tolling Services, WSP; and Janet Kavinoky, Vice President, External Affairs & Corporate Communications, Vulcan Materials Company. Watch the full panel.

Finally, with the expiration of the FAST Act rapidly approaching on September 30, it’s critical for lawmakers to prioritize reauthorizing a long-term, fully funded federal highway program this year. On September 9, AEM and 88 other leading infrastructure stakeholder and manufacturing groups sent a letter to Congressional leadership urging them to pass a turn-key, one-year extension of the current surface transportation law with increased investment levels by September 30. The effort was supported by an AEM grassroots activation of I Make America supporters, which has already resulted in hundreds urging their elected lawmakers to swiftly take action.

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