Prior to his inauguration, President Biden announced the details of his Build Back Better plan, a bold economic platform that prioritizes major investments in our nation’s infrastructure along with some of the strongest labor principles ever put forward by an American president. With the second short-term extension of the FAST Act surface transportation law quickly approaching and an economic recovery that continues to prove sluggish in the wake of COVID-19, the American people simply cannot afford for Congress to wait another day to enact the president’s agenda.
The Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD) and our 33 affiliated unions have long highlighted the need for investments that are squarely in line with the president’s Build Back Better platform. That includes reliable, long-term reauthorizations of our nation’s highway, bridge, public transit, and passenger rail programs along with other large-scale infrastructure investments that would bring all other sectors of our aging transportation and infrastructure not just to a state of good-enough, but instead, solidly into the 21st century.
The principles for infrastructure investments across the board, detailed in our past policy statements, are largely met by the historic, $1.3 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). This legislation was passed this August in the Senate by a strong majority vote and with the support of President Biden. Moreover, the investment in infrastructure, creation of good union jobs, and the broader benefits both would have on our economy enjoys the broad bipartisan support of the American people—an increasingly rare commodity in our often fractured political environment.
TTD also strongly supports a number of labor priorities in the Build Back Better platform that are likely to be included in a separate budget reconciliation package. However, differences between the House and Senate over the size and scope of that package have put the entirety of the President’s economic agenda in jeopardy, risking immediate economic harm to working Americans. Jeopardizing our economy and working families in this way is unacceptable.
As detailed in a previous policy statement, short-term extensions of our surface transportation programs have historically led to delayed or cancelled bids and increased highway and transit projects costs. With our economy on the line as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, the American people can no longer afford to sit by and wait on inaction. The president and many members of Congress campaigned and won on the promise of repairing and modernizing infrastructure. Now is the time for them to deliver on that promise by sending the IIJA to the president’s desk.
TTD strongly encourages the House and Senate to find agreement on the budget reconciliation package by the new October 31st deadline so we can expand access to good jobs and strong labor protections, and enhance the quality of life for all Americans.
Policy Statement No. F21-01
Adopted October 21, 2021