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US Infrastructure & Transportation Legislation Stalled
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Infrastructure bank financing
Further, the election will be underway in earnest in the next few months, and conventional wisdom is that any significant legislative effort like an infrastructure package needs to happen before we are in the throes of an election cycle. Further, the President indicated that he was unwilling to work with Democrats as long as they were using congressional committee oversight to investigate him. As we all know, those investigations have continued apace. Highlights of the bill include:. Senate EPW is, of course, just one of several Senate committees with jurisdiction over surface transportation, with their charge being highways, bridges, and tunnels.
The Banking Committee has responsibility for mass transit, the Commerce Committee covers rail and transportation safety, while the Finance Committee handles the trickiest part of all — funding. In the House of Representatives, jurisdiction is more clear-cut with the Ways and Means Committee handling funding, and the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee covering all other aspects. Each of these committees will be working over the coming months to advance their policy and funding priorities for surface transportation.
While Congress has not always met the two-year mark on WRDA reauthorization, it has been on a winning streak recently, having enacted reauthorization measures in , , and , and there is a strong desire in Congress to continue meeting the challenge with enactment of a new bill next year. Although the long-hoped-for infrastructure package seems a remote possibility, our contacts on Capitol Hill regularly express optimism for a surface transportation and WRDA reauthorization before the deadlines.
He served for two nonconsecutive terms, from to and from to During his time in Congress, Frank served on several House committees. During his most recent term, he was a member of the Committee on Financial Services and served on its Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit as well as its Monetary Policy and Trade sub-committees. Previously he served He assists a variety of clients in their interactions with the federal government.
During most of his tenure, he was either a subcommittee staff director or senior counsel for at least one of three subcommittees: Manufacturing, Trade, and Consumer Protection; Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance; and Competitiveness, Innovation, and Export Promotion. His previous position with the Commerce Committee was serving as a majority staff counsel for two subcommittees for former committee Chairman Rockefeller.
Steve is a Senior Vice President at ML Strategies, where he assists a variety of clients in their interactions with state and local governments. He is a recognized leader in Massachusetts on planning and transportation issues. The commission was established to make recommendations on how the Commonwealth can best finance, maintain, and expand its transportation system. With more than 10 years experience in government and government relations, Neal focuses on issues related to transportation and infrastructure, clean energy, trade, and federal appropriations.
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Credit Programs Update
New Articles. National Security by: Theodore F. Pierson Sixth Circuit finds no standing where plaintiff failed to show A nationwide mileage-based road user charge would be analogous to a national toll. This raises the prospect that vehicles using toll roads might be charged twice, although this effectively happens now in that toll road users also pay tax on the motor fuel they consume while using the toll road.
Technically, it would be possible for a road user charge to replace an existing toll, but this could cause complications with respect to the servicing of bonds funded by toll-road revenue. Since , the HTF has financed most federal public transportation programs as well as highway programs. If a mileage-based road user charge were to be used strictly for highway purposes, it might reasonably be characterized as a user fee even if the amount paid by each individual driver does not correspond precisely to the social cost such as pollution and traffic congestion costs of that user's driving.
A road user charge that funded both highways and public transportation might arguably be seen more as a tax than a user fee. This distinction raises a number of legal issues. If the existing HTF were to be retained, legislation would have to specify what share of the revenue would be credited to the separate highway and mass transit accounts within the fund. In addition to options discussed above, a wide range of additional proposals has been suggested to generate revenue for the HTF.
It should be emphasized that the revenue estimates from these exercises are merely suggestive; the revenue obtained from any given measure would depend on changes in the price of motor fuels, growth in the number of annual auto registrations, and other factors. If Congress chooses not to impose new taxes and fees dedicated to the HTF, it could still maintain or expand the surface transportation program with general fund monies. Any of the financing options discussed above could be used to sustain the existing federal financing mechanism, the HTF, but could also be used to support the general fund if Congress considers alternatives to the trust fund financing model.
This would weaken the historical link between the taxes and fees paid by highway users and spending on the nation's highways and bridges. The Highway Trust Fund was set up as a temporary device that was supposed to disappear when the Interstate System was finished. It has endured, and its breadth of financing has expanded well beyond the Interstates, most significantly with the creation of the mass transit account within the fund to support public transportation spending.
But the HTF is certainly not essential to a federal role in transportation funding. Congress routinely funds large infrastructure projects, such as those constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers, from general fund appropriations. Before , it funded highway projects using annual appropriations. As recently as the s, significant highway programs such as the Appalachian Development Highway System were funded from the general fund.
One alternative would be to eliminate the trust fund structure, thereby doing away with its complicated budget framework of contract authority, obligations, and apportionments. There could be advantages to moving away from trust fund financing of surface transportation. Until recently, one of the most intractable arguments in reauthorization debates concerned which states were "donors" to transportation programs and which were "donees.
Donee states received more than they paid. The donor-donee dispute was unique to the federal highway program, and occurred largely because of the ability to track federal fuel tax revenues by state. This issue has faded as injections of general fund revenues into the HTF have made all states donees, and would likely disappear if transportation-related taxes were deposited into the general fund instead of the trust fund. Treating fuel taxes as just another source of federal revenue would also dampen the long-standing link between road user charges and program spending.
This would provide Congress with greater flexibility to allocate funding among various transportation modes and between transportation and nontransportation uses. Most trust-fund outlays take the form of formula grants over which states have a great deal of spending discretion. While there are numerous federal requirements attached to trust fund expenditures, there have been until recently relatively few performance-oriented goals that the states are required to meet in selecting projects to be undertaken with federal monies.
Performance measures might be easier to implement without formula programs that automatically apportion funding to the states. Eliminating the trust fund might also allow for creativity in thinking about the provision of transportation infrastructure across the modal boundaries that now define much of federal transportation spending. Historically, important parts of U. Reconsidering the trust fund structure might reopen discussion of this approach. Another alternative would be to again devote all trust fund revenues exclusively to highway spending. This would leave transit and other surface transportation programs to be funded exclusively by annual appropriations of general funds.
Such a change would have political implications. Since the early s, public transportation and cycling advocates, environmentalists, and a wide range of other groups have become full-fledged supporters of the surface transportation program, as it has benefited their interests.
The expanded coalition supporting the surface transportation program played an important role in the hard-fought political battles since the early s to pass multiyear surface transportation bills. Whether such general fund support should continue is likely to become a major point of contention when Congress debates reauthorizing surface transportation programs beyond FY By FY, the last year of the FAST Act, federal highway programs will have been funded for 12 years under a de facto policy of providing a Treasury general fund share.
Congress could address the inadequacy of motor fuel taxes to meet surface transportation needs by making the general fund share permanent. The public transportation titles of surface transportation bills already fund the New Starts program with general fund appropriated funds. The Federal Aviation Administration FAA budget is also supported by a combination of trust funds and general funds; the general fund amount is supposed to approximate the value of the airways system to military and other government users and to "societal" nonusers people who do not fly but, for example, benefit from the delivery of freight via aircraft.
Should Congress agree on a future policy of providing an annual general fund share for federal highway funding, the financing structure of the federal-aid highways program could change. Congress would have the choice of appropriating the general fund share to the HTF and maintaining the programmatic status quo, or it could fund some programs from the trust fund and fund others via appropriations. Congress could also consider a two-pronged approach to authorization.
backhalllegastno.ga It could authorize the trust funded programs separately from the appropriated programs. This would give Congress the option of trust funding a very long perhaps as much as year authorization bill for programs that fund projects that typically take many years to plan and complete.
The long-term authorization could be paired with a series of short-term bills funded with appropriated general funds for programs whose projects are more likely to be completed quickly.
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Toll roads have a long history in the United States, going back to the early days of the republic. During the 18 th century, most were local roads or bridges that could not be built or improved with local government tax revenue alone. Over the last three decades the prohibition has been moderated so that exceptions to the general ban on tolling now cover the vast majority of federal-aid roads and bridges. There remains a ban on the tolling of existing Interstate System highway surface lane capacity. While new toll facilities have opened in several states, some of those projects have struggled financially.
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Generally, there are three levels of restrictions on tolling of federal-aid highways. Non-Interstate System highways and bridges may be converted to toll roads but only after reconstruction or replacement. Existing Interstate System surface lane capacity may not be converted to toll roads except under the auspices of two small pilot programs. However, Interstate System bridges and tunnels may be converted if they are reconstructed or replaced.