Archive for October, 2011

Funding Still an Issue as Senate Committee Prepares to Consider Surface Transportation Reauthorization Bill

Monday, October 31st, 2011

The Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee is scheduled to consider surface transportation reauthorization legislation on Nov. 9. But the question over how to pay for it still looms.

Senate EPW Chairman Barbara Boxer’s (D-Calif.) bill reportedly will fund transportation policy for two years at current funding levels. To achieve this goal, the Senate will need to find an additional $12 billion because of declining revenues from fuel taxes. However, the committee is moving forward with its proposed policy despite the lack of a funding source.

Members of the Partnership to Save Highway Communities are working to keep policy provisions that would allow rest area commercialization out of the legislation.

Just last week, Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) introduced legislation in their respective chambers of Congress to establish a national infrastructure bank, similar to what President Obama called for in his jobs plan.

The bill would provide $20 billion for a bank to help fund infrastructure projects across the nation. Proponents of the plan said the money could be leveraged to provide financial support to infrastructure valued at 10 times that initial amount, or more. Opponents have expressed concerns with the government running such a large financial institution.

At a House transportation committee hearing earlier this month, nearly every Republican present spoke out in favor of expanding an existing loan program called TIFIA, instead of creating a new bank. Chairman John Mica asked why a bank was needed when “we have a successful example” in TIFIA.