Build Back Better
On Wednesday, President Biden acknowledged that his signature $1.75 trillion tax and social spending plan may need to be broken up in order to move forward in the U.S. Senate. In recent weeks, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) has signaled that he is supportive of the provisions in the package related to climate change and greenhouse gas mitigation and it appears that there is interest, at least in the Administration, in cleaving this piece of the Build Back Better Act and moving it as a standalone measure. It remains unclear at this point what specific provisions would be included in such a bill, but the House-passed BBB contained a number of positive forestry provisions and considerable funding for deploying innovative wood products in construction projects. The legislation recognizes the outsized role healthy forests play in siphoning carbon and the demonstrated capability of wood construction materials to store this carbon for generations. In addition, the climate provisions also include a host of renewable energy tax credits, including a robust credit for consumers purchasing new wood and pellet stoves for home heating. That credit amounts to 30 percent of the purchase price of the new wood or pellet stove plus fully installed costs.
If this smaller package materializes, ABMA will be closely tracking the revenue raisers identified to pay for these provisions and urge lawmakers to steer away from funding these provisions on the backs of Main Street businesses. The situation is fluid. In discussions with Senator Sinema’s office on Thursday it was indicated that we should know more in the next couple of weeks about the content of the package and potential revenue raisers. The senator’s staff indicated that Senator Sinema was instrumental in preserving the S-Corporation deduction and will be working hard to ensure that small and medium sized businesses will be treated fairly in any subsequent iterations of the Build Back Better legislation.
More Details on Biden Trucking Action Plan
As we flagged earlier this month, the White House released a Trucking Action Plan at the end of 2021 that addressed trucking challenges that are contributing to the supply chain issues the entire economy is experiencing. We have highlighted the younger driver apprenticeship program that was codified as part of the infrastructure bill enacted last year. That program allows 18-21 year old drivers to drive rigs interstate after extensive classroom training and on the road experience riding with a seasoned driver. Last Friday, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration published a notice in the Federal Register signaling that this program is now operational.
Another plank in the plan is to facilitate processing more commercial drivers licenses (CDLs). According to the White House, more than 50,000 CDLs and Learners Permits were issued each month in 2021, which is 20 percent higher than the 2019 monthly average and 72 percent higher than the monthly average in 2020. This is an excellent trend; however it is causing backlogs in processing. To address this, the plan allots $30 million to be sent to state Departments of Motor Vehicles to expedite CDL application processing and issuance. In addition, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) sent all 50 states a toolkit with specific actions to expedite licensing.
A third notable item is its focus on veteran recruitment. Under the plan, the Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service and the Department of Veterans Affairs will begin working with veterans service and military service organizations, unions, trucking industry associations and other private partners to help veterans with certified trucking experience transition into trucking industry jobs. According to the White House, about 70,000 veterans are likely to have certified trucking experience within the past five years and this initiative is aimed at persuading those veterans to get back behind the wheel. All of these actions combined are designed to find more truck drivers, ultimately resulting in more trucks on the road and progress toward alleviating some of the supply chain issues ABMA members and the rest of the economy currently face.