As Congress continues to take steps to pass an additional $2 trillion dollar COVID relief package, President Biden and his Administration have begun to turn attention to infrastructure. This week during a White House meeting with labor leaders, Biden laid out parameters for what will likely be a massive spending package released later in the year.
While specifics on what will be included, timing, and on-vehicle for passage remain elusive, it is a good sign that serious infrastructure conversations are beginning this early in the process.
This meeting followed a productive Oval Office session last week with a group of Senate Leadership and Transportation Secretary Buttigieg, in which the Senators pitched a revisit of last year’s surface transportation reauthorization that included a tax title containing a plethora of BDA and municipal market priorities.
The BDA continues to work to ensure these provisions are considered. This includes the recent launch of the Municipal Bonds for America Council which is planning a virtual fly-in this spring meeting with Hill and Agency staff promoting municipal bond priorities and continued work with our state and local partners in the Public Finance Network
Attention this week though remains on Congress and on what will be included in the COVID stimulus package. State and local funding seem to be a sure bet, however, there has been growing push back on the $350 billion number being pursued by the Administration.
Infrastructure Talks Begin-Bonds Likely to be Part of Discussion
Following growing calls for the Biden Administration to quickly turn its attention to infrastructure, this week the shift began. Following a White House meeting with labor leaders, Senate Leaders, and the DOT Secretary, President Biden declared that his administration is working on plans to revitalize American infrastructure through vast investment in manufacturing and clean energy while noting that the U.S needs improvements in everything from canals, and highways to airports.
Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman, while not explicitly mentioning bonds, highlighted the need to produce a robust surface transportation reauthorization, much like the Moving Forward Act of 2020 that included many bond provisions. While the 2020 Senate bill did not include a tax title, it is widely expected that the 2021 version will include such provisions.
Following the meeting, Carper stated that,
“The American people desperately want us to bring our roads, trains, and bridges out of the last century and into the future, and President Biden and I know that we need to do that in a way that builds back better, putting our transportation sector on a path to zero emissions and creating millions of good-paying jobs in the process. Reauthorizing our surface transportation programs is how we make this happen. I’m currently putting together a bipartisan bill that does just that, and I’m glad it’s at the top of the administration’s agenda.”
BDA Continues to Lead Industry on Pandemic and Remote Work Issues
This week the BDA submitted comments to FINRA in response to FINRA Notice 20-42, “FINRA Seeks Comment on Lessons From the COVID-19 Pandemic.” FINRA requested comment on how firms have managed through the pandemic and what actions FINRA should take going forward. The comments focused on the firm’s ability to operate at full capacity while remote and issues with supervision rules.
The BDA also called on both the MSRB and FINRA to work to ensure that their Rules match, avoiding potential future conflicts.
Specifically, the BDA asked for changes to FINRA’s Rule 3110 on supervision, which is similar to the MSRB Rule G-27 on supervision. BDA wants FINRA to amend its rule so that employees conducting trading, sales, or banking activity from home are not mandated to have annual inspections of employees’ homes.