Trucking State of the Union 2023: “Finish the Job” or More of the Same

trucking state of the union 2023

What can the trucking industry take away from the 2023 State of the Union?

Honestly, more of the same.

President Biden said many times in his speech that we need to “Finish the Job”.  

For the trucking industry, this means finishing the roll-out of the infrastructure bill, CHIPS bill, and the inflation reduction act that he already passed since this congress is unlikely to pass a lot of new bills.

To make this easy, I broke this down in 5 segments: Manufacturing, Infrastructure, EVs, Taxes, and Logistics.

Let’s see what the president said, where we are at now, and what is to come in these five areas.

Manufacturing

“Semiconductors, small computer chips the size of a fingerprint that power everything from cellphones to automobiles and so much more. These chips were invented in America. Let’s get that straight. They were invented in America. And we used to make 40 percent of the world’s chips. In the last several decades, we lost our edge. We’re down to only producing 10 percent.”

“That’s why — that’s why we came together to pass the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act. Folks, I know I’ve been criticized for saying this, but I’m not changing my view. We’re going to make sure the supply chain for America begins in America. The supply chain begins in America.”

President Biden, State of the Union 2023

The CHIPS Act was signed into law on August 9, 2022. It is designed to boost US competitiveness, innovation, and national security.

So how does this affect the trucking industry?

Well, among other things, the CHIPS Act directs $52.7 billion for semiconductor manufacturing, research & development, and workforce development.

According to President Biden, we’ve already created 800,000 new manufacturing jobs before the law kicked in.

Given the scale of investment required, building new semiconductor fabrication plants, or FABs, will take more than government funding. Private investment is needed too.

The CHIPS Act is expected to create hundreds of thousands of new jobs across the country from companies that have announced more than $300 billion in investment in American manufacturing over the next few years.

This means there will be many construction projects to build these FABs and more logistics distribution when they are finally up and running.

However, probably one of the most important lines in the speech was how Biden wants to build these new construction projects.

“Tonight, I’m announcing new standards to require all construction materials used in federal infrastructure projects to be made in America. Made in America. I mean it. Lumber, glass, drywall, fiber-optic cable. And on my watch, American roads, bridges and American highways are going to be made with American products as well.”

President Biden, State of the Union 2023

This is great for local manufacturing, construction, and freight across the US. 

Infrastructure

Infrastructure bill has funded over 20,000 projects so far

“But to maintain the strongest economy in the world, we need the best infrastructure in the world. And folks, as you all know, we used to be No. 1 in the world in infrastructure. We’ve sunk to 13th in the world. The United States of America — 13th in the world in infrastructure, modern infrastructure.

“But now we’re coming back because we came together and passed the bipartisan infrastructure law, the largest investment in infrastructure since President Eisenhower’s Interstate Highway System.”

“And folks, already, we’ve funded over 20,000 projects, including major airports from Boston to Atlanta to Portland. Projects that are going to put thousands of people to work rebuilding our highways, our bridges, our railroads, our tunnels, ports, airports, clean water, high-speed internet all across America. Urban, rural, tribal.”

President Biden, State of the Union 2023

Again, when we look at how the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will affect the trucking industry, we see a lot of mega projects.

For the trucking industry, the initiatives include:

  • $110 billion to repair and rebuild roads and bridges, and
  • $17 billion for port infrastructure and truck emissions at ports

These projects will not only include the new standards to require all construction materials used in federal infrastructure projects to be made in America, but these projects should help improve freight bottlenecks.

For example, there are projects like the Brent Spence Bridge in Kentucky over the Ohio River. The Brent Spence Bridge is currently the second worst truck bottleneck in the nation and carries more than $400 billion in freight per year over the Ohio River.

The project will add a second span west of the original bridge for use by local traffic, alleviating congestion on Interstates 71 and 75 crossing the Ohio River.

Additionally, new lanes will be added to a five-mile stretch of Kentucky highway and a one-mile piece of the Ohio highway approaching the bridge. All of this with promises of zero tolls to be added.

Some work is expected to begin as early as March with major construction starting in November 2023. Completion is slated for 2029.

Moving forward, the Deputy Transportation Secretary, Polly Trottenberg, said that “over the next four years we will be able to fund construction for the pipeline of shovel ready projects we are creating through Bridge Planning Grants.”

This is available for bridges with total eligible project costs over $100 million, with minimum grant awards of $50 million, and maximum grant awards of 50 percent of the total eligible project costs.

Electric Vehicles

“We’re going to build 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations installed across the country by tens of thousands of IBEW workers. And we’re helping families save more than $1,000 a year with tax credits to purchase electric vehicles and efficient appliances, energy-efficient appliances.”

President Biden, State of the Union 2023

The transition to Electric Vehicles, from cars, trucks, and semis, is in its infancy. But Biden is expecting to invest $7.5 billion to grow EV charging stations from 100,000 today to over 500,000 by 2030.

But the funding of this gets tricky.

The bipartisan legislation approved by Congress ended up providing just half of the $15 billion that Biden had envisioned to fulfill a campaign promise of 500,000 charging stations by the end of the decade.

President Biden’s Build Back Better proposal aimed to fill the gap by adding back billions to pay for charging stations. But the bill died due to cost.

Administration officials now say the infrastructure law will help “pave” the way for up to 500,000 charging outlets by 2030. And they say private investments could help fill the gap.

The $5 billion in federal money over five years relies on cooperation from sprawling rural communities in the U.S., which are less likely to own EVs due to their typically higher price. Regardless, states are expected to start construction as early as fall.

The DOT is also working on the sixth round of Alternative Fuel Corridors designations.

This program, created under the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act in 2015, recognizes highway segments that have infrastructure plans to allow travel on alternative fuels, including electricity.

In the end, we will see what comes from this funding.

Taxes

“Pass my proposal for the billionaire minimum tax. You know, there’s a thousand billionaires in America. It’s up from about 600 at the beginning of my term. But no billionaire should be paying a lower tax rate than a schoolteacher or a firefighter. I mean it.”

“Have you noticed Big Oil just reported its profits? Record profits. Last year, they made $200 billion in the midst of a global energy crisis. I think it’s outrageous. That’s why I propose we quadruple the tax on corporate stock buybacks and encourage long-term investments.”

“Instead of cutting the number of audits for wealthy taxpayers, I just signed a law to reduce the deficit by $114 billion by cracking down on wealthy tax cheats. That’s being fiscally responsible.”

President Biden, State of the Union 2023

Where do we begin with Biden’s tax agenda?

Well, the president wants:

  • zero tax increases on people making under $400,000
  • a minimum 15% corporate tax aimed at companies that earn more than $1 billion a year
  • quadruple corporate stock buyback to encourage new projects and business investment, and
  • closing tax loopholes for the wealthy

Again, only time will tell to see how these roll through the trucking industry and into your pocket. 

Logistics

“Last year I cracked down, with the help of many of you, on foreign shipping companies that were making you pay higher prices for every good coming into the country. I signed a bipartisan bill that cut shipping costs by 90 percent, helping American farmers, businessmen and consumers.”

President Biden, State of the Union 2023

Okay, it is time to fact check this claim.

Really, this is government officials bragging about something out of their control.

Just as much of the “global inflation surge” had little to do with Biden’s policies, his claim of slashing shipping costs by 90 percent through a bipartisan bill overstates his influence over supply chains normalizing.

Regardless, DOT launched the Trucking Action Plan last year with hopes to increase the supply of truck drivers by:

  • creating new pathways into the profession (including the under 21 interstate pilot program and veterans into trucking incentives)
  • cutting red tape for Registered Apprenticeship, and
  • laying the foundation for improving job quality to keep people in the profession

Will this help the industry’s driver shortage of qualified drivers? Well, as I have said, only time will tell.

Change happens. How can I stay compliant?

If these bills get passed, there will be a boom in trucking jobs and freight demand, as well as a rise in new venture trucking startups.

This means carriers will need to smoothly manage the compliance requirements in DQ files, ELD management, drug testing, and more.

At CNS, our DOT Compliance Programs focus on Proactive Safety Management (PSM),a mindset that will ensure your fleet’s safety and compliance is always in order and ahead of the FMCSA.

Our PSM Motor Carrier Program includes:

  • ELD management
  • Driver Qualification File Management
  • New driver on-boarding
  • Driver safety meetings
  • CSA score management
  • Policies and handbooks
  • Vehicle maintenance
  • and more

Learn more about our DOT Compliance Programs

Questions about DOT Compliance, Licensing, Audits, Programs, etc.?

Our DOT Specialists are here to help!

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