On July 23, Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Bill Shuster (R-PA), released an Infrastructure Discussion Draft to help advance consideration of how the infrastructure of the United States might be developed and funded in the future. A full draft of the legislation is available, as well as a section by section summary.
The discussion draft starts a conversation about a major component of the draft addresses the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) and its solvency. In the Chairman’s Vision Statement, he says that he does not believe that the gas tax is a long-term solution to the solvency of the Highway Trust Fund. The discussion draft outlines a commission that will explore new ways to fund the HTF that would provide a sustainable source of funding, which would eventually phase out the gas and diesel taxes altogether.
In continued efforts to innovate for the solvency of the HTF, Chairman Shuster’s discussion draft proposes a pilot program to test the feasibility of a per mile user fee. In the Vision Statement, the Chairman also states “this proposal also recognizes that a number of surface transportation system users do not currently pay into the system, even though they benefit from it,” which is why the draft also imposes a tax on materials such as electric car batteries and bike tires.
The draft bill also extends the FAST Act through 2021 to see that infrastructure development continues. It further “ensures that user fees paid into the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund are fully spent to improve access to our ports.”
The timing for committee consideration of the legislation and next steps is unclear, and the outcomes of the 2018 mid-term elections could have a significant impact on how the infrastructure debate moves forward. To learn more about the discussion draft, visit the Committee’s website.