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July 30, 2018

The U.S. House Has An Infrastructure Bill Outline

Last week, U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Penn.) released a discussion draft of an infrastructure proposal that includes a pathway to solvency for the Highway Trust Fund (HTF). In a vision statement, the congressman outlined how the legislation will address the United States’ infrastructure challenges. He said the bill would:

  • Ultimately eliminate the federal gas and diesel taxes;
  • Create a Highway Trust Fund Commission of experts to study how best to achieve the long-term solvency of the HTF;
  • Establish a national, voluntary pilot program to test the viability of replacing current HTF user fees with a per-mile user fee that would require anyone that uses the highway system to “help pay for it” in some manner;
  • Reauthorize and improve a number of water infrastructure and economic development programs;
  • Ensure user fees paid into the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund are fully spent to improve access to ports;
  • Remove barriers to private investment, including authorizing incentive grants to encourage public entities to lease their infrastructure to the private sector;
  • Reform the environmental review and permitting process to accelerate delivery of critical projects;
  • Set permitting deadlines;
  • Increase federal investment in federal infrastructure by providing for direct federal investment in a broad array of transportation projects, including projects that use new innovations and technologies to transform the way we move goods and people.

The bill text is available here and a summary of the bill is here.

While a discussion draft is a step in the right direction, as Politico notes, “The infrastructure draft faces a steep uphill climb. Congress isn’t interested in turning to infrastructure without a pay-for, and Shuster’s draft probably won’t get much traction until it’s time to reauthorize highway and transit programs.”