House Democrats table $ 547 billion surface transportation bill
House Democrats have introduced a five-year, $ 547 billion surface transportation reauthorization bill that the committee will consider next week.
Chairman of the House Transport and Infrastructure Committee Peter DeFazio, D-Ore. unveiled its INVEST in America Act on Friday. The bill would provide federal funding for roads, bridges, transit and rail infrastructure, which is important to many municipal bond issuers who depend on the stability of this federal funding when planning for their budgets. The bill would also fund and make some “streamlining” changes to the popular Transport Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Loan Program (TIFIA).
“The INVEST in America Act puts a central element of the U.S. plan for President Biden’s employment into legislation – seizing this unique opportunity to bring our transportation planning out of the 1950s and into our clean energy future,” said DeFazio in A release.
The bill represents the in-house version of the surface transportation portion of Biden White House’s extensive infrastructure and employment plan. There is additional pressure on this front, as current federal spending on highways is set to expire on September 30. DeFazio’s bill rollout comes less than two weeks after the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee unanimously passed its $ 304.5 billion surface bill.
The INVEST in America law would devote $ 343 billion to financing roads and bridges, $ 109 billion to public transit and $ 95 billion to rail transport of passengers and goods.
State transportation departments warmly welcomed the bill.
“The AASHTO has always called for federal surface transportation reauthorization to be the centerpiece of any infrastructure package,” said Jim Tymon, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. essential certainty for state DOTs, is a key step towards this goal. ”
“The AASHTO strongly encourages Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate to work together to enact a bipartisan reauthorization bill by September 30 that maintains the current formula-based funding to states as the basis of the program. federal surface transportation. This proven approach will provide flexibility for rural, urban and suburban areas to advance important national priorities, including equity; elasticity; carbon reduction; safety for all road users; improving project execution; and, maintaining and improving their assets.
The bill would allocate $ 250 million annually to the TIFIA program for fiscal years 2023 to 2026. The Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, often used in conjunction with bond financing, gives issuers access to federal loans, guarantees loan and reserve lines of credit for eligible projects.
The bill incorporates a change reflected in bipartisan legislation introduced in both the House and the Senate, in which the requirement that a borrower obtain multiple investment grade ratings unless the credit instrument is less than $ 75 million would be changed to a threshold of $ 150 million. Supporters of the change said the top tier will encourage more program participation and reduce red tape for low-risk projects.
Finding the money for surface transportation and other infrastructure priorities is not the job of the DeFazio committee, but rather the Ways and Means committee of tax drafting. Ways and Means President Richard Neal, D-Mass., Is seen as an ally of the municipal finance community and a champion of the tax provisions sought by municipal advocates. Among these are the return of the tax-exempt prepayment and direct-pay Build America bonds, and city advocates hope those goals will be met as part of the tax changes made to support the infrastructure plan. Biden.
The House debate on this bill is unlikely to be the warm and fuzzy affair that occurred in the Senate last month, as House Republicans are already criticizing the legislation as unnecessary and entirely partisan.
The Majority’s new ‘My Way or the Highway Bill 2.0’ duplicates the same mandates, restrictive policies and costly diversion of infrastructure resources that led to last year’s failure to deliver long-term investments in American roads and bridges, ”reads a joint statement by senior Republicans on the Transportation Committee.
“Instead of working with Republicans to find common ground on a bill that could win strong bipartisan support – which our Senate counterparts have successfully done last month – this bill moves even further. on the left to appease the more progressive members of the majority party.
House Democrats have the numbers to pass legislation without the support of Republicans, although Major Democrats have generally expressed a desire to have at least a few Republicans on board. Differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill will need to be resolved before a final version can eventually be passed by both Houses and sent to Biden for signature.