House Democrats seek $ 547 billion for highways and transit programs

House Democrats are pushing for climate-focused legislation that would authorize $ 547 billion over five years for surface transportation, including significant funding increases for passenger rail, mass transit and reducing carbon emissions.

The bill, proposed on Friday, aligns both with many of President Joe Biden’s infrastructure goals and follows in his footsteps in calling for a substantial increase in infrastructure spending.

The legislation “puts a central element of the US plan for the employment of President Biden in the legislative text,” chairman of the House of Transportation and Infrastructure. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), Who introduced the measure, said.

DeFazio’s committee will review the bill on June 9. He has no Republican co-sponsors.

House of Transport and Infrastructure Speaker Peter DeFazio talks about the need for new infrastructure legislation with fellow Congressmen and mayors of major cities outside of Capitol Hill on May 12, 2021.

Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Democrats’ legislation would allow around 80% more funding than the last long-term surface transport law enacted in 2015 (Public law 114-94).

He also offers a lot more money than the roughly $ 500 billion House Democrats. legislation since last year. Republicans were widely opposed to this measure and the Senate never considered it. It remains to be seen whether this year’s measure will gain the support of GOP lawmakers who have called for a more suitable package.

Left open so far: how to pay for surface transportation programs. The gasoline tax, the main source of federal revenue for highways and public transit, is insufficient for current spending levels. The panels tasked with resolving funding issues – the House Ways and Means Committees and Senate Finance Committees – have yet to weigh in.

What is in the bill

A majority of the funding for the House transport committee bill – $ 343 billion – would go to roads, bridges and safety, with a focus on repairing existing infrastructure. This amount would include $ 32 billion for bridges and $ 4 billion for electric vehicle charging infrastructure. It would also end restrictions on electric vehicle charging on interstate highways.

The bill would authorize $ 3 billion for a program to reconnect communities divided by highways. Biden’s infrastructure package proposed to give $ 20 billion to a similar program. About $ 8.3 billion would also go towards reducing carbon pollution in the House bill.

“This bill addresses entirely new issues never before considered, such as climate change and multimodal access in and through cities and towns,” Del said. Eleanor Holmes Norton (DD.C.), the chairman of the Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure on Highways and Public Transportation, said in a press release.

Lawmakers are also looking to dramatically increase funding for rail and transit. The bill would authorize $ 109 billion for public transit, increasing investment in zero-emission transit vehicles and creating programs to address challenges such as compliance with the U.S. Disability Act .

Americans with Disabilities See Patches Open for “Dilapidated” Public Transport

The measure would significantly increase funding for passenger and freight rail transport, authorizing a total of $ 95 billion. That would triple Amtrak’s money, authorizing $ 32 billion for passenger rail service.

The funding would improve intercity passenger rail transportation and support major projects such as the New York-New Jersey Gateway program, according to Rep. Donald payne (DN.J.), Chairman of the Railways, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee. The spending will push more people to “use rail transport, reduce congestion, reduce carbon emissions and reduce the effects of climate change,” he said in a statement.

The committee bill was delayed by returning appropriations or funds dedicated to specific projects, this Congress. About three-quarters of House members have submitted more than 2,300 project applications totaling nearly $ 14.9 billion for pet projects in the Surface Transportation Bill. The legislative text that includes the so-called nominee drafts will be made public before the committee considers it, according to the panel.

Rail and transit increase Biden’s transportation budget

Other measures

House Republicans and Senators have taken alternative approaches to re-authorizing surface transportation programs that expire on September 30.

House GOP members proposed a $ 400 billion surface transportation bill last month, focused on reducing project delays, investing in rural infrastructure and giving more decision-making powers to the states.

The environment and public works committee proposed a bipartisan $ 303.5 billion measure to re-authorize surface transportation programs for the next five years in a unanimous vote on May 26. This panel is one of four that will weigh in on legislation in the Senate.

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