U.S. Chamber Staff


November 05, 2021


A Victory 25 Years in the Making

The passage of the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is a historic victory, first and foremost, for the American people. Much needed and long overdue, it represents the largest federal investment in roads and bridges in half a century; the largest investment in public transit, clean drinking water, and wastewater infrastructure in American history; the largest investment in passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak; and the single largest investment the U.S. has ever made to address climate change.

Nothing of this magnitude ever happens overnight, and that is why the legislation is also a historic victory for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the broad coalition of partners we have worked with to achieve this outcome. It is the culmination of a multi-faceted effort that spanned three decades and four presidencies, that carried on in the face of doubt and even derision, that involved forging alliances with old friends and old adversaries alike, and that built momentum over time until, finally, it broke the logjam that so many predicted would prevent this bill from ever becoming reality. Since the start of the year, the Chamber has engaged in a nine-month blitz of advocacy, advertising, and grass roots organizing to urge the passage of the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

Below are some of the highlights of the Chamber's activities in the pivotal months leading up to this historic moment. 

January 14, 2021: Chamber launched the Build by the Fourth of July initiative with over 300 national and local organizations.

February 17: Chamber-led coalition letter sent to the Hill, 300+ organizations joined.

February 23: Chamber hosted Reps. Seth Moulton (D-MA) and Rodney Davis (R-IL) to discuss bipartisan solutions on infrastructure.

February 25: Launched the Brent Spence Bridge campaign with local chambers, which included TV ads, a national press conference, and local media interviews.

Suzanne Clark

March 11: Suzanne Clark is named President and CEO of the U.S. Chamber, and sets infrastructure investment as a top priority.

April 23: Chamber applauds the bipartisan proposal on infrastructure.

May 6: Led social media day of action, resulting in 790 legislator connections, 208 individual members of Congress reached, and 22,359 impressions.  

May 19-24: Served on the Steering Committee for the 9th annual United For Infrastructure. The opening kickoff event included President and CEO Suzanne Clark and then AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka in asserting the commitment of business and labor to support federal solutions. Other speakers included President Joe Biden and USDOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

May 25: U.S. Chamber Letter on the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act.

June 8: U.S. Chamber Letter on H.R. 3864, the "INVEST in America Act."

June 10: U.S. Chamber Letter on Infrastructure Negotiations.

June 16: The CEOs of the U.S. Chamber, NAM and BRT issued a joint statement urging Congress and the administration to continue bipartisan negotiations. 

June 16: U.S. Chamber Letter on S. 2016, the “Surface Transportation Investment Act of 2021.”

June 24: Chamber CEO Suzanne Clark commends White House and gang of 21 lawmakers for reaching a deal on the bipartisan infrastructure framework.

July 28: U.S. Chamber applauds Senate bipartisan infrastructure deal.  

July 8: Chamber launched the Coalition for Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment, consisting of over 100 business, labor and policy organizations.

July 21: U.S. Chamber urges Senate Republicans and Democrats to complete infrastructure legislation.

July: Chamber-led Americans for Transportation Mobility and Transportation Construction Coalition run ads in DC and nine states urging action. 

July: Sent letters urging action; including state/local chamber letter; Cloture ‘key vote’ letter to Senators; Chamber, ARPA, AASHTO group letter to Senators. 

July 28: U.S. Chamber sends Key Vote Letter on a Cloture Vote for the Bipartisan Infrastructure Agreement.

July 28: U.S. Chamber Statement on Senate Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal.

July 28: Coalition Letter on the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework signed by over 200 state and local chambers.

July 30: Time Magazine: How a Coalition of Business and Labor Groups Helped Save the Infrastructure Bill.

August 4: Led social media day of action urging Congress to pass #InfrastructureNow

August 5: Chamber blog, The Biggest Winner in the Senate’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal May Be Our Climate.

August 5: U.S. Chamber Key Vote Alert! Letter on the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

August 5: Coalition Letter on the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.    

August 10: Bipartisan infrastructure bill passes the U.S. Senate, heads to the House; Chamber applauds Senate and urges House to act..

Late August: The Chamber organized 7 regional press calls with state and local chambers urging immediate action on infrastructure.

From January-September: Chamber held more than 500 in-district meetings, briefings, or events with local chambers or members of Congress across the country.

From January-September: Chamber garners widespread media attention with 15,000 stories on urgent need for infrastructure investment, across national, local, print and broadcast media.  

From January-September: The Chamber’s grassroots network sent more than 3,600 letters of support to Congress and the White House.

From January-September: The Chamber's Capitol Hill outreach included 330+ meetings with Members of Congress and their staff.

September 7-21: U.S. Chamber launches digital ads in dozens on districts across the country, urging citizens to contact their members of congress.

September 21: The Chamber and members of our Coalition for Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment led a National Day of Action, which included sending a letter of support signed by 110 business, labor, and policy organizations to all members of the House, meeting with members on Capitol Hill, and activation of the coalition’s grassroots networks as well as a coordinated social media push using #PassIIJA. 

September 22: Chamber issues key vote letter to members of the U.S. House of Representatives.

September 23: Chamber conducts local TV and radio interviews in 20 target markets.

October 1: Chamber expresses immense disappointment in the Houses’ failure to vote on the bipartisan bill

October 4: Chamber reiterates its support for the bipartisan infrastructure bill and its opposition to the tax and spend reconciliation bill

During October: In the month before the vote, Chamber leadership meets with dozens of key congressional offices to stress importance of this historic opportunity.

November 5: U.S. House passes Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill.

US Chamber of Commerce Infographic v2 02

Below is a partial timeline of the Chamber’s actions over the past 24 years to bring about the dawn of America’s rebuilding.

1997: Tom Donohue takes over as President and CEO of the U.S. Chamber, bringing his passion for infrastructure investment with him from the American Trucking Association. Though few others were discussing infrastructure modernization at the time, Donohue declares it a priority for the Chamber.

2000: As George W. Bush is elected president, the U.S. Chamber calls on his transition team to prioritize infrastructure modernization in his first term.

2001: In a move virtually unprecedented at the time, the Chamber brings business and labor groups together in an infrastructure alliance called the Americans for Transportation Mobility Coalition.

2005: The Chamber works to secure passage of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act (SAFETEA-LU), which includes a 44 percent increase in Highway and transit funding.

2007: The U.S. Chamber launches the Let’s Rebuild America initiative to raise awareness among lawmakers and the public about the business community’s case for infrastructure.

2009: When President Obama takes office, the U.S. Chamber urges “infrastructure first.”

Tom Donohue and John Kerry speaking at an infrastructure event in 2011.

2011 – In January, Donohue and AFL/CIO President Richard Trumka make headlines by issuing a joint statement in response to President Obama’s State of the Union address, praising the president’s call for federal infrastructure investments.

2011: In February, Donohue and Trumka testify together before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works to call for infrastructure investments.

2012: President Obama again calls for infrastructure investments in his State of the Union, and Donohue and Trumka again testify before the U.S. Senate in support of the plan.

2013: For the third year in a row, President Obama calls for infrastructure investment, and Donohue and Trumka release a statement of support and appear before the U.S. Senate to urge action.

2013: The Chamber serves as founding member of Infrastructure Week, a joint effort between business, labor, and other stakeholders to highlight the importance of infrastructure investment.

2014: Suzanne Clark rejoins the U.S. Chamber as Senior Executive Vice President and plays a leading role in expanding Infrastructure Week, which would be held annually between 2013 and 2021 and grow in size each year. 

US Chamber CEO & President Suzanne Clark speaks at Infrastructure Week in 2017

2017: President Trump takes office, and for the third administration in a row, the Chamber urges “infrastructure first.”

2018: The Chamber declares infrastructure its top priority for the year, and holds an “America’s Infrastructure Summit” in January during which Donohue announces a Four Point Plan to Modernize America’s infrastructure

2019: For the fourth time, Donohue and Trumka appear before the U.S. Senate for a joint testimony on the need for bipartisan infrastructure investment.

2019: For the second year in a row, the Chamber hosts the America’s Infrastructure Summit—an additional event held separate from the Chamber’s annual Infrastructure Week. 

Ed Mortimer testifies before the Senate Banking Committee on Feb 25, 2020.

2020: The Chamber backs president-elect Biden’s call to rebuild America and, for the fourth presidential transition in a row, urges the incoming administration to make infrastructure its top priority after COVID relief.



About the authors

U.S. Chamber Staff