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Infrastructure Bill Passage Gets Praise From Fashion, Retail

The U.S. fashion industry, from textile manufacturers to retailers, lauded House passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act for the aid and impetus it will bring to areas such as domestic manufacturing, transportation and logistics, and job creation.

“The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will rebuild and repair our roads, deliver broadband to rural communities, and create reliable 21st century energy networks,” United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai said. “It will help companies and entrepreneurs reach new customers and markets thousands of miles away. It is key to unlocking broad-based economic prosperity and helping the United States build back better.”

The White House said the bipartisan infrastructure deal will rebuild America’s roads, bridges and rails, expand access to clean drinking water, ensure every American has access to high-speed internet, tackle the climate crisis, advance environmental justice, and invest in communities that have too often been left behind. The legislation will help ease inflationary pressures and strengthen supply chains by making long overdue improvements for the nation’s ports, airports, rail and roads. It will drive the creation of good-paying union jobs and grow the economy sustainably and equitably so that everyone gets ahead for decades to come. Combined with the President’s Build Back Framework, it will add on average 1.5 million jobs per year for the next 10 years.

The National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO) said Friday’s House passage of a bipartisan infrastructure bill will help reconstitute a domestic supply chain for face masks, isolation gowns and other personal protective equipment (PPE).

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“This is the first step in a long-term strategy that is critically needed to permanently onshore PPE production to ensure our nation is prepared for the next health security crisis,” NCTO president and CEO Kim Glas said. “This infrastructure package will help incentivize the reshoring of PPE production by guaranteeing long-term federal contracts and expanding Berry Amendment rules to more federal agencies’ purchases of PPE products, important priorities of the U.S. textile industry.”

NCTO worked with congressional allies to include a version of the Make PPE in America Act, legislation co-sponsored by Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Senator Gary Peters (D-Mich.), in the infrastructure legislative package. The bill ensures all PPE purchased by the Departments of Homeland Security, Health and Human Services and Veterans Affairs are Berry Amendment-compliant, meaning it contains 100 percent domestic content; guarantees long-term contracts for a minimum of two years to U.S. manufacturers, and creates a tiered preference for PPE made in the Western Hemisphere by U.S. free trade partners using U.S. components, after domestic manufacturing capacity has been maximized.

“This bill within the infrastructure package will help onshore critical production of critical medical supplies, ensuring that taxpayer dollars do not go to China and other offshore PPE producers but are instead utilized to bolster the federal purchase of American-made PPE,” Glas said. “In fact, applying these strong procurement rules across our government for purchases of PPE will unequivocally lead to investments in this sector and help onshore this industry longer term.”

After the House voted to approve a the bipartisan infrastructure deal, which will invest more than $550 billion in U.S. infrastructure over the next five years, the legislation now heads to the White House for President Biden’s signature.

“Retailers rely on the American infrastructure system to move billions of dollars’ worth of merchandise to communities across the country and around the globe every day,” National Retail Federation (NRF) president and CEO Matthew Shay said. “A healthy and efficient transportation system is vital to the success of thousands of retail businesses. This substantial influx of investment in our roads, ports, bridges and other core infrastructure will further enable businesses to meet burgeoning consumer demand and promote economic growth. The prioritization of our nation’s fundamental transportation network will mitigate many of the supply chain challenges businesses are experiencing today and will pave the way for a 21st century infrastructure system that can withstand future disruptions.”

The legislation will reauthorize surface transportation programs for five years and invest $110 billion in additional funding to repair roads and bridges and support major, transformational projects. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act makes the single largest investment in repairing and reconstructing the nation’s bridges since the construction of the interstate highway system, according to the White House. It will rebuild the most economically significant bridges in the country, as well as thousands of smaller bridges. The legislation also includes the first-ever Safe Streets and Roads for All program to support projects to reduce traffic fatalities, which claimed more than 20,000 lives in the first half of 2021.

In addition, the act upgrades U.S. airports and ports to strengthen the supply chains and prevent disruptions that have caused inflation. The White House noted that the legislation will improve U.S. competitiveness, create more and better jobs at these hubs and reduce emissions after decades of neglect and underinvestment have left the links in the goods movement supply chains struggling to keep up with the strong economic recovery from the pandemic.

“The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal will make the fundamental changes that are long overdue for our nation’s ports and airports so this will not happen again,” the White House said. “The United States built modern aviation, but our airports lag far behind our competitors. According to some rankings, no U.S. airports rank in the top 25 of airports worldwide. Our ports and waterways need repair and reimagination, too.

“The legislation invests $17 billion in port infrastructure and waterways and $25 billion in airports to address repair and maintenance backlogs, reduce congestion and emissions near ports and airports, and drive electrification and other low-carbon technologies,” it added. “Modern, resilient, and sustainable port, airport, and freight infrastructure will strengthen our supply chains and support U.S. competitiveness by removing bottlenecks and expediting commerce and reduce the environmental impact on neighboring communities.”

Michael Hanson, senior executive vice president, public affairs at the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), said House passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act make historic investments in infrastructure while simultaneously keeping the corporate tax rate at 21 percent is “great news for retailers and the 50 million jobs, they support throughout the economy.”

“The infrastructure bill is a much-needed, trillion-dollar boost to modernize our ports, roads, and highways, and as heavy users of our nation’s infrastructure, greatly welcomed by the retail industry,” Hanson said. “These public investments will create more efficient supply chains and allow retailers to innovate and invest in more effective and sustainable means to deliver goods to families across the country.”

He added that retailers appreciate that the Democrats’ Build Back Better spending plan keeps the corporate tax rate at 21 percent, which means “retailers can continue to invest in their people, communities and innovations to keep the business respondent to the everchanging needs of consumers.”

“This is extraordinarily important as we navigate supply chain disruptions, talent shortages and a global pandemic,” Hanson added. “As the larger spending plan heads toward passage in the House and on to the Senate for further consideration, leading retailers will continue to advocate for a fair tax code and a 21 percent corporate rate.”

President Biden said Saturday that the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, “a once-in-generation bipartisan infrastructure bill that will create millions of jobs, turn the climate crisis into an opportunity, and put us on a path to win the economic competition for the 21st Century,” will create “good-paying jobs that can’t be outsourced, jobs that will transform our transportation system with the most significant investments in passenger and freight rail, roads, bridges, ports, airports, and public transit in generations.”

“This will make it easier for companies to get goods to market more quickly and reduce supply chain bottlenecks now and for decades to come,” Biden said. “This will ease inflationary pressures and lower costs for working families…This bill will make historic and significant strides that take on the climate crisis. It will build out the first-ever national network of electric vehicle charging stations across the country. We will get America off the sidelines on manufacturing solar panels, wind farms, batteries and electric vehicles to grow these supply chains, reward companies for paying good wages and for sourcing their materials from here in the United States, and allow us to export these products and technologies to the world.”

It will also make historic investments in environmental clean-up and remediation, and build up national resilience for the next superstorms, droughts, wildfires, and hurricanes that cost the U.S. billions of dollars in damage each year, Biden added.