NRF, FDRA Are Optimistic About Infrastructure Bill, As Biden Secures Deal With Senators

The Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America and the National Retail Federation praised the news out Thursday about bipartisan Senate support of the president’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan.

President Joe Biden said the parties had struck a deal around midday on Thursday after he invited the group of senators to the White House to talk about the plan in person. Late Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki had said that senior staff from the White House and a bipartisan group of senators had been negotiating about infrastructure and that “the group made progress towards an outline of a potential agreement.”

Matt Priest, president and CEO of the FDRA, told FN on Thursday, the pending legislation “should help to drive much-needed infrastructure investment in our ports, roads and bridges. The flow of investment will take time, which won’t alleviate our current supply chain challenges but should help improve our ability to move footwear over the long run.”

For its part, the NRF said it was encouraged by news that the two sides were creating a framework for an infrastructure package. “Infrastructure has always had strong support across the aisle, so crafting a bipartisan pathway for this essential investment is the surest way to achieve progress,” said Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the NRF, in a statement.

Earlier this month, the NRF asked President Biden to step in and help fix port congestion at a critical time when the supply chain has been impacted on an ongoing basis due in large part to the coronavirus health crisis.

“Now more than ever, the U.S. needs significant investment to ensure we remain competitive on a global basis,” Shay’s statement said. “The retail industry relies on our nation’s transportation network to move billions of dollars’ worth of merchandise every day to warehouses, distribution centers and stores, and ultimately to consumers’ front doors.”

Shay said the new infrastructure plan should focus on safety and have built-in resiliency for future needs. Funding should remain top of mind, too, “without overburdening the businesses that are leading our economy out of the pandemic.”

The sweeping $2 trillion bill revealed in late March centers on infrastructure and jobs and is expected to have lasting repercussions on the retail sector. The American Jobs Plan would invest billions of dollars in fixing and rebuilding roads, bridges and ports; expanding broadband access and upgrading electric grids; building affordable housing and other facilities; as well as revitalizing U.S. manufacturing, among other initiatives aimed at bolstering American jobs, according to the White House.

In total, Biden has earmarked $621 billion for transportation infrastructure. Specifically, $115 billion will be set aside for fixing roads, streets, bridges and highways, while another $85 billion will go toward modernizing public transit systems. He has also allocated $25 billion to upgrade airports and $17 billion to improve waterways and ports.

Also on Wednesday, the White House said in a statement that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Leader Chuck Schumer met with the Office of Management Budget, the National Economic Council and the Domestic Policy Council to discuss President Biden’s legislative priorities, including the American Jobs Plan.

“They agreed that Congress must meet the president’s goal of investing in creating a generation of good paying jobs, addressing the climate crisis, and ensuring American workers and businesses can compete globally, while not raising taxes on anyone who makes under $400,000,” the statement said. “They underscored the importance of extending the child tax credit, and investing in the care economy, including expanding child care, to help ensure that women can return to the workforce.”

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