US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx Tuesday announced that President Obama plans to provide lawmakers with a legislative proposal for renewing federal transportation spending. Obama called on lawmakers to pass a four-year, US$302 billion bill to revitalize the nation’s transportation infrastructure.
The president was previously criticized for failing to provide a specific bill proposal during the last infrastructure funding debate in 2012, when lawmakers approved the 2012 Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) Act, according to TheHill.
Transportation Bill, US
Foxx said Tuesday on the Department of Transportation’s website that the Obama administration will soon issue a draft of a proposed MAP-21 reauthorization bill, reversing the president’s 2012 decision to defer the details on funding levels to Congress.
Obama has already signaled that he thinks lawmakers should use US$150 billion in anticipated savings from corporate tax reform to close the Highway Trust Fund shortfall, which is projected to reach US$20 billion annually without congressional action. But an agreement on tax reform is unlikely, leaving lawmakers to find another funding source.
The current two-year highway bill is set to expire November 1, and the gasoline-tax-reliant trust fund is expected to run short of money in the heart of the summer highway repair and construction season, according to the Washington Post. When that happens, money that states use to pay for those projects will trickle to a halt.
The president’s plan to fill the gap in the trust fund would represent a major policy shift. It relies on a one-time, US$150 billion boost from corporate tax reform — a proposal that Obama has floated before and that has been largely ignored by Congress.
Obama’s plan would end almost 60 years of reliance on a user fee — the gas tax — to pay for transportation, substituting significant direct funding from the general tax fund.