Portman, McCaskill, Donnelly Applaud Moves to Cut Red Tape on Infrastructure Projects, Urge President to Work with Them to Enact Bipartisan Bill

Senators who introduced bill to reform permitting processes to speed up construction projects applaud new fast-track plan

Washington, D.C. – After introducing the bipartisan Federal Permitting Improvement Act last year to cut down on burdensome regulations to allow infrastructure, development, and energy projects to be constructed more quickly, U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), and Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) are applauding the announcement by the White House to implement a fast-tracking plan for new projects and urging the Administration to work with them to pass the bill and implement a permanent solution to cut red tape on infrastructure projects. 

The White House plan is in large part based on the Portman, McCaskill, Donnelly bill—endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, numerous labor unions, and the Business Roundtable—including the assignment of a lead agency, institutionalizing new and improved coordination practices among agencies and with state and local partners, increasing project transparency, and implementing clear schedules for the permitting process. 

“I’m pleased the Administration is taking steps to reform the federal permitting process,” Portman stated. “The President’s plan is a clear recognition of the need for permitting reform and demonstrates that the Federal Permitting Improvement Act is the right way forward.  I am hopeful that the President’s endorsement of many of the act’s core principles will help move the bill forward towards enactment.” 

“This is a step in the right direction for our job-creators,” McCaskill said. “Businesses and communities are waiting for Washington to act so they can get to work on projects being held back by unnecessary and duplicative delays from multiple federal agencies. We’re going to continue working to advance this bipartisan bill to help get these projects moving again, get the American people back to work, and grow our economy.”

“We need to encourage private sector investment in big infrastructure projects that will help create jobs,” Donnelly said. “Our bill would improve the federal permitting process for major infrastructure projects by requiring better coordination among permitting agencies and increase transparency by requiring the government to track progress online. I am pleased to see that the Obama Administration’s plan to fast-track infrastructure project permitting includes some of these concepts. This is a sign of progress.”

Current private sector construction permitting processes are plagued by a lack of coordination, unmet deadlines, and insufficient transparency. State and local government authorities face the same obstacles when they seek federal permits for infrastructure projects.

The Federal Permitting Improvement Act, sponsored by Portman, McCaskill, and Donnelly, is modeled on the commonsense, bipartisan permit-streamlining reforms of the 2006 and 2012 transportation bills, recent recommendations from the President’s Jobs Council, and other recent studies on this issue. The bill would improve the permitting process for infrastructure projects of $25 million or more that require federal approval by:

• Identifying best practices and deadlines for required reviews and approvals of various types of infrastructure projects, including the designation of one “lead agency” for a project when multiple federal agencies are involved.

• Encouraging greater cooperation with state and local permitting authorities.

• Providing greater transparency and early public participation, including the creation of a website to track federal permit approvals.

• Reducing the timeframe in which major infrastructure projects are vulnerable to environmental lawsuits from six years to 150 days.

This legislation has received the endorsement of 13 major labor unions, including the AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Department, as well as the Chamber of Commerce and Business Roundtable.