Huffman Secures Priorities for Northern California in H.R. 2, a Transformational Infrastructure Bill to Create Jobs and Rebuild America
Bill Includes Huffman Legislation on Modernizing the Postal Service, Deploying Broadband, and Investing in Resilient Water Infrastructure
July 01, 2020
Washington, D.C. – Today, Representative Jared Huffman (CA-02) voted to pass the Moving Forward Act. This bill marks a transformational investment in American infrastructure that will create millions of jobs, take bold action on the climate crisis, and address disparities in urban, suburban, and rural communities across the country. The more than $1.5 trillion proposal rebuilds U.S. communities with infrastructure and innovation that is smarter, safer, and made to last.
“America has called for action to fix our crumbling infrastructure, and after years of empty talk from politicians about change, House Democrats have stepped up with the transformative Moving Forward Act,” said Rep. Huffman. “I have spent my career developing legislation to meaningfully invest in infrastructure and make the changes needed to build a clean and resilient future; and I am honored that so many of my bills are included in this historic legislation. It’s time we stop just talking about infrastructure and actually make laws to invest in our nation—let's get moving.”
Click here to view Rep. Huffman’s remarks during debate on H.R. 2
Key Huffman priorities in the bill include the following provisions added after the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee markup:
- Modernizing the USPS Fleet: The bill authorizes $25 billion in funding for the Postal Service for the modernization of postal infrastructure, including $6 billion specifically for the purchase of next generation USPS delivery vehicles. At a minimum, at least 75% of the new fleet purchased with the $6 billion must be electric or zero-emission. The bill also ensures that at least 50% of the fleet of medium and heavy-duty trucks purchased by 2030 and 100% of medium/heavy duty vehicles purchased after 2040 be electric or zero-emission. Charging stations will be made available for the USPS delivery fleet as well as to the public, with a minimum of one public charging station per public USPS office required.
- Deploying Broadband on Public Lands: The bill includes the Public Lands Telecommunications Act, authorizing Interior Department land management agencies to retain fees for rights-of-way and other telecommunications infrastructure use authorizations on public lands, ensuring those fees are reinvested to further broadband and telecommunications deployment. It also provides cooperative agreement authority so that public land management agencies can work with private industry and local communities to expand telecommunications infrastructure and services. These increased authorities, incentives, and resources will help land management agencies address the digital divide in rural and Tribal communities, particularly those adjacent to or nearby public land.
- Investing in Resilient Water Infrastructure: The bill includes the FUTURE Western Water Infrastructure and Drought Resiliency Act, an ambitious water infrastructure proposal providing approximately $3.5 billion for western water infrastructure and drought resiliency measures, including $750 million for sustainable, multi-benefit water storage projects including both aboveground and underground reservoirs; $500 million for water recycling and reuse projects; and $260 million for innovative water desalination projects.
- San Francisco Bay Estuary Funding: Building on House passage earlier in the year of Rep. Speier’s San Francisco Bay Restoration Act, the House adopted an amendment by Rep. Speier, coauthored by Huffman and Reps. Garamendi, Lofgren, and Thompson, to increase funding for the program by $125 million. H.R. 2 includes the proposal to authorize the Environmental Protection Agency to fund habitat restoration, wetlands recovery, climate change resiliency, and wildlife protection projects throughout the Bay and Delta.
- Water Conservation Tax Parity: The Moving Forward Act includes within it a provision that Huffman introduced earlier this Congress to clarify that homeowners do not need to pay income tax when they receive rebates from water utilities for water conservation and water runoff management improvements that they have made. This change to the tax code is modeled on existing energy conservation rebates, and is supported by a wide range of water utilities, environmental organizations, and industry associations.
In addition to these new provisions, the Moving Forward Act already included other Huffman priorities added at the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, such as:
- Vegetation Control: Working with Marin and Sonoma County, the bill was amended to ensure funding for clearance of roadside vegetation for the prevention of wildfires and assurance of safe passage on evacuation routes. Throughout California and much of the West, wildfires have emerged as a catastrophic problem causing billions of dollars of damage, leading to billions of dollars in federal expenditures, and – most tragically – taking countless lives.
- Innovative Project Delivery: In order to encourage innovative project delivery to allow for faster, safer, and more efficient construction, the bill incorporates a proposal from Rep. Huffman to ensure that advanced digital systems, including digital three-dimensional modeling technologies, are eligible for federal incentives.
- Wildlife Crossings: The legislation would help improve the safety of both motorists and wildlife by reducing wildlife-vehicle collisions. Rep. Huffman was successful at the committee markup in adding additional language to ensure workforce development and training to increase the skillset of transportation professionals to address these critical safety and environmental issues. The amendment also incorporates wildlife habitat connectivity in the National Bridge and Tunnel Inventory and Inspection standards to ensure that wildlife crossings and wildlife-vehicle collisions are considered in future bridge and tunnel repairs or replacements. Finally, the legislation also includes a significant investment of $300 million for projects and strategies to reduce vehicle-caused wildlife or restore and maintain connectivity for wildlife habitat, as advocated by Rep. Huffman’s earlier letter to the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on May 7, 2020, joined by 36 other members.
- Ferry Boat Programs: In addition to the provisions the Congressman secured for the North Bay and North Coast of California, the bill also contains an increase in funding for two ferry boat programs, including FTA’s Ferry Boat Discretionary program.
Rep. Huffman strongly supports the many other provisions in H.R.2 that will benefit residents of northern California and communities across the country, including:
- Strong Investments in Broadband that would
- Facilitate the buildout of broadband infrastructure by way of a competitive bidding system that prioritizes underserved and unserved communities, with $80 billion in funding for these much-needed projects.
- Establish the State Digital Equity Capacity Grant Program, to aid States in digital equity and digital inclusion, and establishes a broadband benefit program that entitles households with a member who qualifies for Lifeline, free/reduced school lunch, or are recently unemployed to receive a $50 benefit, or a $75 benefit on tribal lands, to put toward the monthly price of internet service.
- Establish a grant program at the FCC, using the authorities that established the E-Rate program, for schools and libraries to fund connectivity for students and teachers in the digital classroom, reduce the digital divide, and support mobile hotspot-lending.
- Improve broadband transparency by increasing access to data from service providers regarding price of broadband service plans, subscription rates, and the resiliency of the network in the event of a natural disaster or emergency.
- Building Green Schools: The Rebuild America’s Schools Act includes, in its committee report, green and ecofriendly allowable uses for its grants and bonds including language from Rep. Huffman’s Investing in Tomorrow’s Schools Act; “Grants and bonds may also be used to improve energy and water efficiency to lower costs and energy consumption and to build modernizations that reduce reliance on fossil fuels and expand the use of solar power, wind power, and other renewable energy resources.”
- Native American Housing Block Grant Program: Authorizes $1 billion to the Native American Housing Block Grant (NAHBG) program, which provides flexible funds for affordable housing activities to benefit low-income tribal households. At least 10 percent of the funding in this section must be used for green housing investments.
- Indian Health Program Hospitals and Outpatient Health Care Facilities: Provides $5 billion in total funding for fiscal years 2021 through 2025 for the planning, design, construction, modernization, and renovation of hospitals and outpatient health care facilities within the Indian Health Service (IHS). This provision also requires that any awards under this section be for projects that will increase energy efficiency, energy resiliency, or a greater use of renewable energy.
- Coastal restoration and resilience: Provides a $3 billion grant program for shovel-ready projects to restore coastal and marine habitats, helping increase the resilience of our ecosystems and communities.
- Clean Energy: Promotes renewable energy development on public lands and builds a workforce for offshore wind. Provides more than $70 billion to transform our electric grid to accommodate more renewable energy, expand renewable energy, strengthen existing infrastructure, help develop an electric vehicle charging network, and support energy efficiency, weatherization, and Smart Communities infrastructure. Builds on current successful tax incentives that promote the deployment of green energy technologies while providing new incentives for activities that reduce carbon pollution. Encourages “greening the fleet” by supporting widespread adoption of zero-emission vehicles through tax credits, supporting zero-emission vehicle manufacturing, and deployment of publicly accessible electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
A Fact Sheet of the Moving Forward Act is here.
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