WASHINGTON—Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives have issued a framework for a five-year, $760 billion infrastructure reauthorization plan that includes $319 billion for highway spending.
The proposal, according to the 19-page outline issued Jan. 29 by the leadership of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, would cover funding for roads, bridges, transit systems, railways, airports, ports, inland waterways, wastewater and drinking water systems, brownfields and broadband.
"Our country has changed dramatically since the 1950s, yet people and goods are now literally stuck trying to move on transportation networks first developed nearly 70 years ago," said Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio, D-Ore.
"It's past time for transformational investments to make our infrastructure smarter, safer and resilient to climate change," DeFazio said.
The highway portion of the proposed package would provide funding for regional and national highway projects, bridge repair and communities, according to the outline.
It would provide funds to build fueling infrastructure for zero-pollution hydrogen and electric vehicles along designated highway corridors.
The plan would also encourage projects to reduce carbon pollution from the transportation sector, promote cleaner communities and focus on cutting congestion and related pollution through the use of technology in urban areas, the outline said.
The plan would keep the Highway Trust Fund and other existing transportation trust funds solvent through "user-based mechanisms," according to the outline. However, it offered no details as to the mechanisms it would use.
The day before the Democrats issued its infrastructure outline, Republicans on the committee issued their basic principles on infrastructure reauthorization, including:
- Addressing the long-term sustainability of the Highway Trust Fund.
- Incorporating innovative technology in improving infrastructure.
- Addressing the infrastructure needs of rural communities.
- Prioritizing the core functions of existing surface transportation programs.
A new infrastructure reauthorization package is a high priority for both the White House and Congress, because the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, the infrastructure funding law signed by President Obama in 2015, expires Sept. 30 of this year.
Currently before the Senate is S. 2302, America's Transportation Infrastructure Act of 2019, which is more narrowly focused than the Democratic proposal.
S. 2302 would be a five-year reauthorization of several transportation programs, including the federal aid highway program and the transportation infrastructure finance and innovation program.
President Trump called for Congress to pass S. 2302 in his State of the Union Address Feb. 4. This signals that for now there will not be a larger infrastructure bill, the Tire Industry Association said in its Feb. 10 Weekly Legislative Update.