Chairman Bill Shuster of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee today released a legislative discussion draft outlining his plan to invest in the nation’s infrastructure, including transportation and water infrastructure. Draft bill language, a section-by-section outline, and other information is here.
The draft bill includes the following provisions related to transportation:
- Highway Trust Fund Commission. The Commission will submit a report to Congress that includes recommendations to achieve the long-term solvency of the HTF and the corresponding legislation required to enact those recommendations (Section 101).
- National, volunteer-based pilot program to demonstrate whether a per-mile user fee can replace the existing user fees on gasoline and diesel. Volunteers can be owners of both passenger vehicles and commercial motor vehicles, as well as an owner of a fleet commercial of motor vehicles (Section 102).
- Eliminates the reduced user fee on fuel used by certain intercity and local public transportation buses. The reduced user fee on fuel used by school buses remains in effect (Section 111).
- Electric battery tax. Establishes a 10 percent user fee on the wholesale price of electric batteries used to propel motor vehicles (Section 113).
- Bicycle tire tax. Establishes a 10 percent user fee on the wholesale price of bicycle tires used on adult bicycles (Section 114).
- Motor fuel tax increase. The federal user fees on gasoline and diesel fuel by 15 cents per gallon and 20 cents per gallon, respectively. These increases are phased in over a period of three calendar years (Section 121).
- National Infrastructure Investments Program. The Secretary of Transportation is directed to award grants on a competitive basis to eligible applicants; there is a 30% set aside for projects in rural areas (Section 201).
- Nationally significant transportation projects. A set-aside and a transparent process for a future Congress to authorize nationally significant transportation projects; the process is similar to that used to authorize new projects in recent Water Resources Development Acts.
The draft legislation also includes sections related to accelerating project delivery including “One Federal Decision” and the establishment of a pilot program on the use of innovative practices for environmental reviews and project finance.
In a press release Chairman Shuster wrote, “The 2016 presidential campaign shined a spotlight on America’s crumbling infrastructure. Since Election Day, the American people have waited for action by their federal elected representatives, and I am just as frustrated as they are that we have yet to seriously consider a responsible, thoughtful proposal. That is why I have released a discussion draft that reflects input from Members on both sides of the aisle, as well as a broad group of infrastructure stakeholders interested in building a 21st century infrastructure for our country.”
Chairman Shuster’s draft includes provisions of interest to both Republicans and Democrats but some observers aver it is but a Chairman’s draft only and not a bipartisan package. While the bill is unlikely to move through the committee structure during the remainder of this Congress it is likely to move the infrastructure financing discussion forward, especially given the tax provisions included in the draft.