Caucus weighs user fees, P3, smart investment for infrastructure policy

An Infrastructure Working Group within the 48-member, bipartisan Congressional Problem Solvers Caucus has issued a new report, “Rebuilding America’s Infrastructure,” offering solutions to improve highways, roads and bridges, transit and railways, ports and airports, water and sewer systems, the power grid, plus broadband and communications networks. 

Infrastructure Working Group member Rep. Lloyd Smuker (R-PA) calls the report “a first step towards reforming our regulatory environment, modernizing transportation infrastructure, and expanding the internet’s reach into rural communities.”

“By modernizing existing user fees, incentivizing private innovation and investment through public private partnerships, making smarter investments with limited federal dollars, and increasing accountability to taxpayers, this taskforce believes we can build a[n] infrastructure network that will foster a truly 21st century economy that works for every single American,” the group affirms.

“The policy solutions provide Congress the building blocks necessary to craft a comprehensive infrastructure plan that both parties can agree to,” says Problem Solvers Co-Chair Tom Reed (D-NY). “We’ve paved a bipartisan path to get to ‘yes’ and look forward to working with key leaders in Congress to find the right mix of policies to create legislation that can, and should, be enacted into law as soon as possible.”

“Our country became great because Americans dreamed big, built big, and made bold decisions. Working together, we spanned rivers, electrified rural America, built railroads across the continent, connected cities thousands of miles apart with highways, and moved information faster than humans ever imagined possible,” adds Infrastructure Working Group Co-Chair Rep. Elizabeth Etsy (D-CT). “Those investments created millions of jobs, led to unprecedented mobility and innovation, and established America as the envy of the world. Today, millions of Americans see aging airports and rightly wonder if we’re still capable of tackling the toughest challenges our country faces in a bold, bipartisan manner … You cannot build a 21st century economy with a mid-20th century infrastructure.”


Tracking current infrastructure investments, the “Rebuilding” report spotlights such projects as the Folsom Dam Auxiliary Spillway in California. PHOTO: Congressional Problem Solvers Caucus

By preparing a report detailing areas where both parties can begin to work together to streamline processes and provide sustainable funding solutions, notes Infrastructure Working Group Co-Chair Rep. John Katko (R-NY), “We’ve signaled to President Trump, as well as leaders on both sides of the aisle in the House and Senate, that we are ready to work in a bipartisan manner move our nation’s infrastructure forward.”

The Associated General Contractors of America and American Road and Transportation Builders Association-led Transportation Construction Coalition observed in a statement on the early-January release of “Rebuilding America’s Infrastructure”: “To its credit, the report demonstrates bipartisan support for improving all manner of infrastructure facilities and an array of specific policy actions to achieve that goal. The Caucus puts its finger on the most pressing transportation infrastructure issue: the need for a permanent solution to the Highway Trust Fund’s revenue shortfall and is illustrating specific proposals to remedy this situation and stabilize federal highway, bridge and transit investment. The TCC could not agree more with a key conclusion in the report: ‘This spending puts the burden of today’s infrastructure needs on tomorrow’s children. Lawmakers must stop kicking the can down the road.”

“Since 2008, more than $140 billion in general fund transfers and budget gimmicks have been needed to preserve federal surface transportation investments. The trust fund’s revenue shortfall continues to grow. In fact, the $70 billion transferred into the trust fund as part of the 2015 FAST Act law will be liquidated in FY 2020. Without new revenue, starting in 2021, the states will face a growing cut from their current level of Highway Trust Fund program funding that would average about $19 billion annually. Accordingly, a permanent Highway Trust Fund revenue solution to support increased surface transportation investment must be the foundation of any infrastructure package.”