It was nearly six months ago this week when the U.S. House of Representatives passed a $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill that, if it had been signed into law, would have, in part, sharply increased spending on roads and transit and upgraded U.S. Postal Service trucks.
That could have been good news for the tire industry.
How it would be paid for — as well as some of the bill's other provisions, including a concentration on carbon pollution — made it DOA once it reached the Senate.
And that probably was good news, too.
Now, as a new administration prepares to take office, there is renewed hope that a comprehensive infrastructure bill, long overdue, will come to fruition.
President-elect Joe Biden has discussed the need to address the nation's crumbling bridges and roads, a move the industry fully supports.
Roy Littlefield, executive director of the Tire Industry Association (TIA), has expressed the need for caution, especially as it pertains to paying for the bill. Government agencies often raid dedicated money to fund something unrelated completely, as is the case with Social Security.
Mr. Littlefield told Tire Business that he is concerned that the tire and automotive repair sectors could be easy targets for funding, particularly through excise taxes on passenger or truck tires, or truck parts.
Our hope is that in the next session of Congress, an infrastructure bill becomes a priority. It is long overdue.
Coming on the heels of a bitter election cycle, it may look bleak to accomplish anything in a Washington atmosphere enveloped with distrust, dissension and divisiveness. But there is hope.
First, Congress recently agreed to a second stimulus relief bill, a $900 billion relief package for Americans hard hit by the pandemic.
The fact it passed in the same climate in which members of Congress couldn't even agree on the legitimacy of an election seems like an accomplishment. And perhaps a reason to be optimistic.
We also think that a more divided government — Democrats gained at least one seat, pending the Georgia election, in the Senate, while Republicans cut into the Democrat's majority in the House — will be good for the country.
Compromise and bipartisanship will be as critical as ever. What better way to demonstrate that than to pass an infrastructure program.
"It's one of those things that it's really important to the country, and it's really important to the industry to have an infrastructure bill," Mr. Littlefield said, "so we want that."
It's time for Congress to climb into the driver's seat. The road to an infrastructure bill may be wrought with potholes, but it's certainly a worthy destination in 2021.