Transportation industry leaders are pointing to two priorities for their goals in a Biden presidency beginning in 2021, urging the new administration to seek solutions to long-delayed infrastructure improvements and to stopping the deadly coronavirus pandemic.
The groups issued their statements following the news on Saturday that President-elect Joe Biden was projected to have won both the popular vote and the electoral college count, and is scheduled to be inaugurated as president on January 20, slightly more than 10 weeks from now.
“On behalf of the entire industry, congratulations to President-elect Biden on his victory,” Ian Jeffries, president and CEO of the Association of American Railroads, said in an emailed statement. “The President-elect is no stranger to America’s railroads, and the freight rail industry looks forward to working with his new administration to advance our shared goals including getting Americans back to work, strengthening the economy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The challenges his new Administration and our nation face are great, but the freight railroads want to be – and must be – part of the solution.”
One of the crucial groups responsible for creating new freight policies at the federal level is the U.S. House of Representative’s Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. Following the election results, the chairman of that committee will continue to be Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), who on Sunday said the group would renew its focus on Infrastructure Week, the annual collection of legislative initiatives and press events intended to draw attention to the nation’s need for improvements to roads and bridges.
“The President-elect has made it clear he is ready to work with Congress to deliver results for all Americans with bold investments in infrastructure that help everyone, from large metro areas dealing with unreliable transit and soon to be jam-packed highways, to rural communities that suffer from bridges in poor condition and deteriorating roads,” DeFazio said in a statement. “President-elect Biden plans to ‘Build Back Better,’ and that’s exactly what our Nation needs to move our infrastructure into the 21st century while creating millions of family wage jobs, supporting U.S. manufacturing, and harnessing American engineering and ingenuity.”
Details of proposed infrastructure improvements on Biden’s campaign website say that the new administration calls for investing $1.3 trillion over 10 years on projects such as stabilizing the Highway Trust Fund to build roads and bridges, creating electric-vehicle charging networks, a national high-speed rail system, the development of low-carbon aviation and shipping technology, and infrastructure fortifications to withstand the effects of climate change.
More specific to the logistics sector, that plan also seeks to invest in freight infrastructure, including inland waterways, freight corridors, freight rail, transfer facilities, and ports. That focus would also roughly double funding, from $1.8 billion to $3.5 billion a year, for competitive grant programs like the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) Transportation Discretionary Grants program (formerly known as Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, or TIGER) and Infrastructure For Rebuilding America (INFRA).
Additional freight sector improvements would “prioritize investments that will improve supply chains and distribution, reduce shipping costs, and boost U.S. exports,” the Biden website says. That would occur by increasing funding for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers by $2.5 billion per year, supporting infrastructure projects to keep goods moving quickly through our ports and waterways, as well as providing federal funding for lock modernization projects on inland waterways.
Groups seek plan to control the pandemic
Any plans to focus federal policies and investments on freight transportation in 2021 will also have to include a strategy to support economic activity during a prolonged coronavirus pandemic. Facing that challenge, industry groups also called on Biden today to renew the federal response to fighting Covid-19.
"We applaud Mr. Biden for making Covid-19 management and relief priority number one, and commend his efforts to build a Covid-19 Task Force focused on science, the health and well-being of all Americans, and the strengthening of the U.S. economy. We look forward to working with the Biden administration on these priorities in 2021,” Steve Lamar, the president and CEO of the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) said in a release. "Until a reliable vaccine is widely available, and the economy can regain the strength necessary to sustain itself, fighting Covid-19 using all our health and economic tools must be our top priority – both for the rest of 2020 and into 2021.”
Manufacturing groups echoed that call to make the pandemic a top priority, according to a statement from Jennifer Abril, president and CEO of the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates (SOCMA).
"The extraordinary events of 2020 and the Covid-19 pandemic have significantly altered life as we know it. SOCMA welcomes the opportunity to highlight the important role specialty chemical manufacturers play in the U.S. recovery with President-elect Biden and other newly elected leaders,” Abril said. “SOCMA members are creating lifesaving vaccines and pharmaceuticals, as well as consumer and industrial products essential in mitigating the impact of the disruption to American lives. To continue our vital role, SOCMA will advocate for business certainty and relief from regulatory burdens that could impede this goal."
Likewise, the Main Street Alliance, a trade group for small businesses, urged a focus on improved pandemic policies. “Small businesses are looking forward to an administration that will create a rational and effective plan to contain the virus and support small businesses through this pandemic and beyond. We are committed to working with the new Congress to ensure much-needed small business support. That includes a robust, comprehensive plan to deal with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and economic impact,” the group said in a release.
RELEASE: Apparel and Footwear Industry Congratulates Biden and Harris While Stressing Unity and COVID Relief @stevewonk #Election2020 #COVIDReliefNow https://t.co/6QbTsRzBz0 pic.twitter.com/HkkSYmUJ04— AAFA (@apparelfootwear) November 8, 2020