Last month, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Moving America Forward Act (H.R. 2). Its purpose is to invest in American infrastructure and to create jobs in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis. As of this posting the bill is now in the Senate. The President has expressed opposition to the bill’s passage, despite general statements of support for rebuilding America’s infrastructure.
If it passes in the Senate and is signed into law by the President, the Act could result in the investment of more than $1.5 trillion in: (1) rebuilding highways, bridges, transit and rail facilities; (2) rebuilding schools to allow schools in high-poverty areas to meet health and safety standards; (3) modernizing the energy infrastructure for cleaner energy; (4) building affordable housing; (5) providing affordable high-speed internet to underserved communities; (6) upgrading hospital and healthcare infrastructures; (7) ensuring clean water and a safe wastewater infrastructure; and (8) pursuing a zero-emissions U.S. postal fleet. Like the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (“ARRA”) that was passed to stimulate the economy after the Great Recession, the Act includes requirements for utilizing the American labor force and American-made materials. The timing of the Act, which (also like ARRA) seeks to create jobs, is notable given the tremendous unemployment rates across the country caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a press release from the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, whose INVEST in America Act was included in the Moving America Forward Act, this “moves our country away from decades-old transportation planning models and programs, and is key to creating millions of American jobs, combatting the climate crisis, and addressing long-standing disparities in communities around the country.”
If passed by the Senate and signed into law, the Moving America Forward Act should jumpstart federal and federally sponsored state contracting opportunities across a myriad of industries, including design and construction, transportation, technology, renewable energy and dozens others critical to infrastructure. Regardless, the law’s passage by the House is a reminder to existing and would-be contractors to prepare for these opportunities by, among other things:
- Updating the firm’s profile in the System for Award Management (SAM) to ensure all of the information, including each mandatory representation, is accurate and complete;
- Further develop a list of small business contracting partners to facilitate quicker bidding and contracting processes and procedures down the road;
- Confirm registration with public bidding and bid notification services like SAM.gov (formerly FedBizOps) and similar state bid notification services within your geographic territory;
- Take steps to try to increase bonding capacity; and
- Conduct an internal compliance audit to ensure the ability to accurately and timely determine compliance with the myriad non-commercial terms and conditions applicable to public contracts (e.g. payment of Davis-Bacon and other prevailing or living wages, certified payroll requirements, and domestic source and country of origin restrictions).